Posted Apr 26 2016

Bastille Day - This Movie Doesn't Quite Rock

Dir: James Watkins

Starring Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon

Director Watkins has a pretty good track record to date – the genuinely unnerving Eden Lake and the stylishly unnerving The Woman In Black. It’s a bit of a shame then that his move into the action-thriller genre is so, well, unnervingly generic.

Luc Besson’s name may be nowhere in sight, but this is clearly one of those movies – and we don’t mean the first Taken – closer to the third. It’s not helped by the fact that Idris’ CIA agent – none more maverick – is introduced in a scene in which his every terse reply is designed to be a “classic” action man one liner – all of which fall flat. After this ignominious intro, Elba actually proves his worth once the action gets going (but please can we forget the new Bond/new Bourne nonsense – it’s Idris Elba running around Paris hitting and shooting people – nothing more). And there are a few decent set pieces that Watkins handles with aplomb – most notably an early vertigo-inducing rooftop chase.

But the plotting – corrupt cop unit create chaos to cover bank heist – is far too familiar for its own good (Triple 9, et al anyone?), and the “buddy” relationship between Elba and Madden’s An American In Paris pick pocket lacks spark and humour both.

On the whole, Bastille Day is perfectly functional in just about every way, but never anything more than that. Which is a shame given the promise Watkins has previously displayed.

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