With a rooftop chase scene as good as anything in Bourne, Bastille Day is a serviceably brash thriller. It’s a bit silly maybe, with a plot that requires you to overlook the implausibility of a certain smartphone with no passcode protection. But there is a nifty premise. In modern-day Paris, a young American pickpocket called Michael (played by Richard Madden, from Game of Thrones) is mingling discreetly with the tourists and stealing their wallets and watches; things are going well for him until he pinches a bag belonging to a beautiful and upset-looking young woman called Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon). The bag contains a ticking bomb, because Zoe is a terrorists’ accomplice who had just lost her nerve and was about to throw it in the Seine – and it’s going to go off any minute! What happens next brings into play an outrageously macho CIA agent called Briar, played by Idris Elba, who has to tackle the terrorists and foil a sinister conspiracy. Director James Watkins gave us the nerve-mangling ordeal thriller Eden Lake in 2008, starring Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly (who appears in this film too, as Briar’s boss); his work here is more conventional with more of a popcorn flavour, but none the worse for that. And that rooftop sequence really is good.
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