After Ip Man 3 briefly elevated Ashley and Matthew to the dizzying heights of just above the scurf mark on the grotty cinematic bathtub that is Sunday Club last week things sank suitably back to regular team SC levels this week with Bastille Day; yet another European set terrorist pot-boiler starring an action star probably slightly too old to do much action without some densely layered editing but not yet old enough to admit they were actually too old for this shit.
Would Bastille Day be a breakout gem like the original Taken or a shameless Taken rip-off like Taken 2, Taken 3 (where no-one literally no-one was Taken) or all those other shit ones Kevin Costner made last year? Only Ashley & Matthew have the answers / opinions.
Moving to Tunisia, I’ve found that the French influence, in Tunis especially, is rife: I massively appreciate the North African nation for completely bastardising both French and Arabic in one fell swoop. What I’ve also noticed is that the dodgy DVD store down the rue serves up some French funded, E-One distributed, straight to DVD clangers with much enthusiasm. Enter: Bastille Day.
The first thing evident in 2016’s Bastille Day is that the Canal+ film makers seem to have blown their budget on Idris Elba and padded the rest of the cast with possible support actors from Hollyoaks and/or French Hollyoaks.
The movie opens with Michael (Richard Madden), opportunist pickpocket and all-round sweaty sandwich with poorly patched together backstory, plodding around some wanky amphitheatre looking thing with some madamé, causing a distraction by having a walkabout in the buff. This causes a stir but she doesn’t get arrested for indecent exposure… probably because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Oh France Eye-rolls.
He then throws her in the bin for being annoying or because of her Pidgin English. Now we know that he’s a damaged soul and a professional Billy-no-mates it’s on to his next slippery finger escapade. Half inching a cowardice terrorist wannabe’s (oddly, not portrayed by brow skinned person) handbag. After finding nothing but a few baguettes and a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, he dumps the bag, but the flaming melon missed the bomb at the bottom of it which blows up at the Metro station and turns him into Interpol suspect number one. The CIA (World police) is on the case.
It seems as though Idris Elba has been directed to revive his Luther character for this movie, this time as an American CIA agent with an accent that’s impossible to place but is passable, maybe… This will probably only get shown in Tunisia so it’ll be fine. As the movie builds, I start to notice that from the casting that it seems as though no Americans were offered roles in this film, with the two main American characters being played by Brits and another supporting one, also British.
I love the unrealistic nature of action movies; such as how nobody questions just why it’s so easy access data from a password encrypted smartphone using a USB slot in a 1997 SAAB. It also has me questioning whether a drug dealer with a car stuffed to the brim with pills would report their garish golden Merc as stolen if it had been.
To be fair I’ve not been paying much attention as I’m half-cut and full of chicken, but the terrorist who bottled it from earlier appears to be part of some anti-fascism group with sketchy video editing software. Fake Luther punched the fragile lady, who looks as though she gets motion sickness from walking, right in the gut… the great man.
Though I applaud anyone who’s made an out-and-out action movie in recent years. I must say that ‘Bastille Day’ is quite middle of the road, it has some okay plot twists and has an appropriate level of hard-to-believe which is reminiscent of the old school action movies. It seems as though you have to be a moody Jason Bourne, specially trained in believable Navy Seals type stuff to get the film made nowadays but this movie sticks two fingers up to that nonsense/sense.
What I really enjoyed about this was that it wasn’t too dependent on unnecessary, tin-pan alley CGI, like in the recently reviewed ‘USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage’.
Though I feel this may disappoint Matt, I do quite like Idris Elba, but in this he is straying a little into Statham territory here, though it isn’t bad, it also isn’t Statham – <3 Statham.
The highlight of this movie is definitely the rooftop chase at the start, it looked equally as good, if not better, than one of these deeply unenjoyable Daniel Craig Bond movies. – Bring back Pierce Brosnan!
In case the movie wasn’t enough of an Idris Elba fest in true ‘Little Britain’ fashion Idris Elba writes the theme tune (alongside Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook) and also sings the theme tune; thankfully regressing back to his British accent for the vocals.
The credits close and I’ve retained pretty much nothing from this, but I think it’s served its purpose in doing that; it’s the sort of movie that you do your ironing to and may watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s a proper two and a half star, 5/10, 50% kind of movie that will probably do numbers on Netflix and the E-One/Canal+ marketing team can go into hyper-drive with as soon as a new Idris Elba movie/TV show/song/biscuit/cat food/brand of pill comes out.
There’s an old maxim that goes something like “better the devil you know” and by that rationale for episode six of Sunday Club I was on my arse. Other than the fact it starred part actor, part omnipotent, infinitely malleable marketing putty Idris Elba I literally had no fucking clue what this film was about…
A bit of research informed me that it was themed around an horrific terrorist attack on the titular Bastille Day and that it had to be pulled in France on account of the actual Bastille Day attack happening about twenty minutes after its release. Best foot forward ey?
The opening credits kindly informed me that it was an Amazon Prime Instant Video and Anonymous Content co-production so at least we know going in that the corporate devil of warehouse shopping had a hand in it. It also didn’t escape my attention that one of the two production companies (Anonymous) appeared to have named itself after a movement that grew simultaneously alongside the Occupy movement and shared its hatred of ruthless profiteering & international banking cabals whilst the other (Amazon) is a shameless tax dodging corporation that enforces near Victorian factory levels of work and pay upon its staff. If the rest of the film is even half this divisive we should be in for an interesting ride but it’ll probably just be 120 excruciating minutes of corporate “everyman” sales pitches from Idris.
Maybe I’m over thinking it.
And thus the film literally opens with tits… A naked, white (assumedly French) set of tits. Bouncing around whilst a bemused crowd are expertly pick-pocketed by a faceless, designer stubble white bloke. Is Bastille Day a deeply socio-political musing on the manner in which the mainstream media uses the female form to tap primal desires and distract the masses whilst their white overlord owners deceive and rob them? Or is Bastille Day just the ghost of Men & Motors incarnate destined to be nothing more than tits, car chases and the odd re-run of Bullseye? …Probably over thinking it again but quietly hoping its option two.
Turns out that would be the last time I did any thinking for the next two hours.
The co-conspirator to that nubile, European set of baps (aforementioned designer stubble, pickpocketing white bloke) it turns out is one of our lead characters: drifter / thief Michael Mason. What the role was crying out for was a roguish charm akin to Harrison Ford’s dashing smuggler Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy… What it got was Richard Madden whose performance in this is akin to a House Of Frazer mannequin taking your mum out on a fresh oyster dinner date and attempting to finger her before even waiting for the heated towel.
Still if nothing else at least he gets the line “did you see the face on that nun” shortly after he’s robbed everyone (including the nun) of their watches and mobiles.
Obviously Idris Elba then pops up (like he has in every film ever since 2012) and at this point I’m not sure if he’s playing a character in a film, playing a character in a wanky aftershave ad or playing himself in a wanky aftershave ad… Or wanky aftershave in a film.
His wonky accent gives absolutely no clues as to his intentions and at this point all I know is he’s probably trying to sell me some bullshit on some level. I really liked him as Stringer Bell iin The Wire; why can’t he do that accent anymore? Maybe he sold it to someone.
It’s fine though; two clunky sentences of lazer guided exposition later and we’ve established he’s a renegade, maverick, lone wolf, rogue agent who plays by his own rules… And might also try and fob you off with a superfast broadband deal. I’m sure Idris just mentioned guaranteed upload speeds but it’s hard to tell with that dodgy accent.
Basically the next hour of the film pivots on some French woman wandering into an office with a wig and blouse combo so unconvincing she looks like she just got fired from the set of Mars Attacks, leaving a bomb in the office, decides she doesn’t want to bomb the office, sits down for a little cry enabling House Of Frazer pickpocket to inadvertently pickpocket her bomb and blow up some innocent people. Through a couple of nigh on invisible narrative leaps Idris Elba goes from interrogating the pickpocket (or possibly just trying to aggressively sell him some home insurance) to chauffeuring him around Paris looking for the bomb woman.
Occasionally they stop so Idris Elba can punch groups of people dressed like they just left a club dancefloor circa 2004 to mix things up a bit. Apparently the costume designer must have gotten a great deal on a job lot at D2 Menswear’s closing down sale because this whole film actually looks like it was shot ten years ago. Even Idris, the defacto king of “cool” in 2016 is dressed like he might just have finished pints with the lads at Bagleys around the turn of the century.
This is exactly the sort of landfill I’d expect to find on Amazo… Oh.
There’s not really much point going into the narrative as it makes next to no sense on any level. Usually I’ve got ample time for mindless genre pieces but this one does literally nothing new. It barely does anything in fact. There’s just loads of people looking for each other, finding each other and then chasing each other only to lose each other in ambling crowds. Oh and literally all the bad guys are called Pasquale.
There’s a couple of horribly misguided moments that are worth a watch though; someone sticks the Happy Mondays on a jukebox before a fight which is nice and Idris Elba punches a woman rather unnecessarily in the kidneys because… By this point I’d completely stopped paying attention. It might have been a new NHS pregnancy advert. I’m sure as soon as I saw it I wanted to buy something.
In the end this all just feels like a mindlessly loud Luc Besson production if Luc Besson wasn’t involved thus rendering it mindless and loud but without the mercurial whimsy and implausibly indulgent nonsense Luc Besson can weave into even the most basic of plots.
What could have been a swift Saturday night number with its tongue firmly touching up the inside of its cheek unfortunately becomes a piece of a rote, paint by numbers, maverick CIA bullshi… Hold the phone this is basically a Steven Seagal C-Movie!
But don’t listen to me: if anyone can sell Bastille Day to you it’s charming, bit-of-rough everyman Idris from Hackney. Meanwhile I’ll be watching Steven Seagal flumping about Bulgaria in whatever piece of Euro-trash he’s most recently shat out.
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