Bastille Day | Review

BASTILLE DAY is a Luc Besson looking action movie set in France starring the deserved “Black” Bond and the one true dead-in-red King of the North. Kernel Blake got to hit up this B-grade, but somewhat fun, movie and reviews below while trying to fit in as many GoT puns or references as he can, he could have done more, there wasn’t even a mention of his bastard brother! Salty Popcorn as a whole also entirely supports Idris Elba as the next James Bond. BASTILLE DAY is releasing on May 12th in Australia from StudioCanal, see it for a drool at the leading hunks thrown in with some decent action, it runs for 92mins and is rated M. Enjoy Blake’s thoughts…….all the best…….JK.


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Idris Elba is a complete badass. Fact. So it’s a real shame that he has yet to be cast in many movies that make the most of his charisma, humour and intimidating behemoth-like physique. His latest film, BASTILLE DAY, from director James Watkins (THE WOMAN IN BLACK) unfortunately carries on that tradition, casting Elba in the role of a maverick CIA agent tasked with stopping a terrorist plot to add some unwanted fireworks to Paris’ Bastille Day celebrations.

Trying to emulate the success of the Liam Neeson geriaction-fest of TAKEN, this effort is about as formulaic and clichéd as you can get, seemingly running through a checklist of action beats and set pieces that was found in “Action Filmmaking 101,” possibly penned by Luc Besson. That’s not to say BASTILLE DAY is a bad film, it actually has some enjoyable moments throughout with a solid cast. It’s just that it is made ‘by the numbers’ and forgotten about almost immediately upon leaving the cinema.

The film opens at the iconic Sacré-Cœur where the humble folk of Paris have their night interrupted by a completely stark naked woman casually strolling down the steps of the basilica. A usual Thursday night for Paris you may be thinking, but it is all a distraction for slippery-fingered pick pocket, Michael (Richard Madden, GAME OF THRONES) to go to work and clean out the locals’ pockets and sell the goods to a black market dealer in Paris’ seedy underbelly.


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The self-proclaimed ‘best of the best’ pick-pocketing King of the North, soon finds himself in deep merde after he pinches a bag belonging to a terrorist parties bomb mule, Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon, THE WALK). After pilfering the bag of its valuables, Michael dumps the bag on a side street, not knowing that a teddy bear stashed in the bag contains a bomb that was meant for an attack on a political party headquarters. When the bomb explodes taking out innocent civilians, Rob Stark is public enemy number one as a wanted terrorist and probably wishes he could head north to the Wall and join the Night’s Watch (OK enough with the GoT references) (Ed Note: NEVER – YOU NEARLY MENTIONED JON SNOW).

Being a US citizen, the local arm of the CIA move to stop an international incident and bring Michael in for questioning and who better to get the job done than loose-cannon agent, Sean Briar (Idris Elba, PACIFIC RIM). From here we get into TAKEN territory, not just because of the Parisian location, but also for Elba’s shoot/punch/kick/head-butt first, ask questions later school of investigation. Soon after apprehending Michael and seeing first hand his pick pocketing skills, in an amusing interrogation scene, he realises he was the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time and the two team up to track down Zoe, now a target for her failed bombing, and to take down the terrorist cell.


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Here, BASTILLE DAY turns into a mix of buddy cop films and an almost beat for beat retelling of the far superior Michael Bay action fest, THE ROCK, or Le Rocher if you will. Local SWAT members are behind the terrorist plot, angered by the lack of funding their fallen and injured comrades receive in the line of duty. Their grand plan is to incite riots throughout the city in the lead up to Bastille Day celebrations, which will create a big enough diversion for them to knock off hundreds of millions of Euro from the national bank, as compensation for their services.

But they didn’t count on big Idris the juggernaut coming in to single handedly take their team down. After learning of the SWAT teams’ plans, he goes on a rampage with Michael the pick pocket and Zoe the jittery mess in tow. As I mentioned earlier the story is pretty basic and clichéd with very few surprises throughout. There are some fun moments between Elba and Madden who share a good on-screen chemistry, although Elba is so charismatic he could charm the paint off walls. A special mention must go to a well shot & edited fight scene in the back of a moving van involving 5 people, gives new meaning to the term fighting in a phone booth. It’s brutal, inventive and a shame there aren’t more scenes like it in the movie.


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When the action dies down, the average script doesn’t do the film any favours and when he’s not smashing heads, Idris does seem to be sleep walking through a lot of his delivery, with Madden slowly working in his American accent as the film progresses. Special mention must also go to his magical beard which seems to change length and density from scene to scene. Also, the main bad guy seems to be the French Robert Downey Jr, which is about the most memorable thing about him.

All in all, it was an easy way to spend a very brief 90 minutes but not something I would remember down the track or watch again. Elba really needs some more roles that show off his acting chops and physicality (make him Bond!), whereas Madden makes an admirable foray into feature films, after a stint in Westeros. If you’re after a fun, action-heavy time you’re better off watching the recent LONDON HAS FALLEN or going back to TAKEN and THE ROCK, similar films made better, whereas BASTILLE DAY is très décevant and best left for home video or a late night TV watch.


2 and a Half Pops



Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life, like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. Can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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