Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is an American pick-pocket in Paris. And he's having a grand old time robbing clueless tourists and then fencing the loot. Then he makes a mistake. He swipes a bag containing a bomb. Not realising the bag's deadly contents, he discards it moments before the bomb goes off, killing four people. Mason survives, but CCTV images means he becomes the key suspect in the mind of the French authorities.
Enter CIA agent Sean Briar (Idris Elba), newly assigned to Paris, and from what we can gather from his job interview, a bit of a rogue. Briar quickly realises that the story is not an American pick-pocket turning into a international terrorist. Briar scoops up Mason and the duo become trapped in an alliance seeking to uncover the truth behind the bombing.
What follows is a 24-hour rollercoaster ride of twists and turns, with plenty of chases (foot and car), fights and intrigue tossed in. The bombing leads to unrest in the city - fingers are pointed, riots and violence ensue. Briar, with Mason in tow, needs to sort the mess out, working against the criminals and the French authorities amidst a Paris gone to hell.
Bastille Day was directed by James Watkins from a screenplay by Andrew Watkins. Idris Elba as CIA agent Briar is excellent, his character is interesting enough and Elba does his best, which is very good. Richard Madden is also capable, as is Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon) who was supposed to deliver the bomb in the first place and who ends up becoming entangled with Briar and Mason as they seek the truth.
The film ticks off all the ingredients of the action-movie genre. But it's all done quite stylishly, with Paris forming an attractive backdrop (the release date was delayed following the terrorist attacks on the city), and the plot offering an entertaining mixture of politics, terrorism and crime - elevating it above similar fare. There are a few moments of pure silliness, but this tends to happen in movies like these and most will forgive and forget. Fans of the genre will be more than happy with this slick thriller.