April 23, 2016
Idris Elba has been in big Marvel films like "Thor" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron", but I don't really know how he looked like without the Heimdall costume. He had a performance last year in the film "Beasts of No Nation" which triggered controversy when he was not nominated for an Oscar, but this was not shown locally. Just this year, he had been in two films, "Zootopia" and "The Jungle Book." However in both films, we only hear his deep imposing voice. With this film "Bastille Day," we finally see Idris Elba as a modern day action hero, not far from the news that he is being touted to be the next James Bond.
Michael Mason is a skillful American thief in Paris. One day, he steals a bag from a distraught girl on the street named Zoe. After getting her cell phone and seeing nothing else of apparent value in the bag, he throws it into a garbage dump. This one seemingly innocent act led to a tragedy killing four people, triggering mass paranoia and discontent in the City of Lights. CIA operative Sean Briar goes over and beyond his assignment to get to Mason and secure him before the French Police do, uncovering an insidiously complex plot which will come to pass on Bastille Day.
Idris Elba is as imposing and impressive as his voice was. When asked why he ran away, Mason quipped, "Don't you see how you look like?" Elba's Briar was big, macho, tough and scary, anyone would have tried to run if he comes to get him. As an agent, Briar was an independent-minded and reckless rouge to the chagrin of his CIA bosses, but to the delight of the audience. If this was a preview of how he would be as James Bond, it makes us all eager to see how Elba will transform the iconic role as his own.
Richard Madden is more known to many as the ill-fated Robb Stark on HBO's "Game of Thrones". After he bid the TV series goodbye via a bloody Red Wedding, he went on to be Prince Charming in the live action version of "Cinderella." Physically, Madden looked like a scared boy when placed side by side with the intimidating Idris Elba, which made him just right for the role of the unfortunate Mason, a guy who just so happened to steal the wrong bag. I liked the chemistry that was built between the two characters.
I was floored by the action sequences of this film, so raw with bone-crunching realism. I liked that the chase and fight scenes were not too obviously choreographed. That chase scene on the rooftops would have been flawless parkour stunts in another film. But here it was shaky and so uncertain that it created so much tension, so much better. The execution of the many twists and turns of the story was very effectively done, such that we never would have seen the climax miles away. I would not mind a sequel as the ending seemed to suggest. 8/10.