Cerificate: 15

Running Time: 92 mins

Star Rating: 3/5

A SMALL-TIME criminal is in the wrong place at the wrong time in director James Watkins' action-packed thriller. Shot on location in London and Paris, Bastille Day boasts a thrilling rooftop chase performed by the actors rather than stunt doubles. Elba is a surly, muscular presence at the centre of every action sequence.

Budgetary constraints and haphazard plotting from screenwriter Andrew Baldwin conspire against the leading man, and misfiring on-screen chemistry with co-star Richard Madden undermines Watkins' dream of crafting a mismatched buddy cop movie. Foregoing expensive slam-bang thrills, Bastille Day opts for murky political intrigue and a grand conspiracy that confirms the biggest crooks are powerful men in suits, who should be serving and protecting the public, not greedily fleecing them.

Expert pickpocket Michael Mason (Madden) steals at tourist hot-spots like the Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre. He spies a young activist, Zoe Naville (Charlotte Le Bon), in a state of distress. She isn't paying attention to her shopping bag, so Michael swipes it, takes the valuables and discards the bag, unaware that a bomb is buried inside. The device detonates and Michael is condemned a terrorist by CCTV footage.

US operative Sean Briar (Idris Elba), who is assigned to the CIA station in Paris, vows to apprehend Michael before an elite French SWAT team led by Rafi (Thierry Godard). A game of cat and mouse between Briar, Michael and Rafi plays out. Bastille Day was originally scheduled to open in February, but the film's release date was, understandably, pushed back two months in the aftermath of the terror attacks in the French capital. Elba effortlessly copes with the physicality of his role, but Madden is a tepid sidekick, and Le Bon is completely superfluous.

Damon Smith