Bastille Day - Idris Elba's audition for James Bond is not quite up to scratch - 2 stars

Walking into the cinema...
Is this Idris Elba’s attempt to prove he is  meant to be the next James Bond?

Overall Rating: 2 stars
Cinematic rating: 2 stars 
Bigger questions rating: 3 stars   

       Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is a small time, but creative pick-pocket who is working the crowds of Paris. He has managed to stay under the radar of the authorities until his sticky fingers  take the shopping bag of a distraught young woman. The young thief is unaware of the contents of the bag and the historical impact that it will have on France and himself. The seemingly innocent bag contains a bomb that will become the catalyst of a series of criminal events that occur around the national French holiday, Bastille Day. Even though Michael is innocent of creating the bomb, he becomes the primary suspect in a terrorist investigation by the French authorities and the CIA. Sean Briar (Idris Elba) is the agency’s representative who is sent to search for the young thief and attempt to get to the bottom of this tragedy before Paris becomes a battlefield. Bastille Day becomes a race against time to uncover the reason for the bombing and to expose the group that means to create chaos in the city of lights. 
         Bastille Day is an action adventure that plays as a social commentary on the recent bombings in Paris and the immigration difficulties that are plaguing Europe. Director James Watkins (A Woman in Black) capitalises on these current world events to provide a realistic backdrop for his CIA-centric production. The surrounding drama had a real world feel to it that provides a realistic view of the situation even though the action had a tendency to reside in the unbelievable. The young director is comfortable in exploiting Elba's physicality, smouldering presence and provides some above average action sequences. The battle in the police van is one of the highlights of the film and it is worth wading through the sloppy dialogue to experience. 
         Idris Elba is a commanding and formidable central character, but the script and supporting cast never rise to his level of charisma. Elba seems to be putting forth his case for taking over the mantel for Daniel Craig in the Bond franchise with his formidable looks, a knack for taking a punch and his ability to run across rooftops. Presence is not an issue for this cinematic force, but he is limited by the weak script and predictability of the mysterious caper happening around him. 
         The storyline moves along in a rapid-fire manner and the supporting cast seem to find it difficult to keep up the pace. Richard Madden tries to match the stride of Elba's ferocity, but always seems to be a few steps behind on delivering the needed intensity and humour. Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes) and Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk) come off as afterthoughts and are left with throw away lines and minimal effect on the story. Understandably, this is a vehicle to showcase Idris Elba's talents and appeal, but beyond some strong action sequences, Watkins fails to provide the supporting depth to move Bastille Day beyond the average police outing. 

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
With terrorism threats around the corner, this world seems out of control. It begs the question of how God could allow these things to happen? It is a huge question that needs a bit more time. The issue lies in the heart of mankind and the response to God. Interestingly, God does have an answer for this problem. 

1. What does it mean to love your enemies? (Matthew 5: 43-45)
2. Is revenge an option for our lives? (Romans 12: 17-21)
3. Does God care about our lives? (Matthew 6: 8, 26)

Leaving the cinema...
Idris Elba is a force to be reckoned with in cinema, but Bastille Day will not provide the support for him to take the helm as James Bond. It may have helped if he kept his British accent, but in the end the film would have still fallen short of expectations. 

Trailer for the film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #bastilleday