*NEW* BASTILLE DAY REVIEW *NEW*

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BLAST-ILLE DAY! Or Luther pick-pockets Paris with that guy from Game of Thrones.

An entertaining and explosive little actioner that does the job.

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.

An eye-grabbing opener certainly got things going as a naked woman (What?) paraded around the Sacre Coeur. A perfect distraction for Madden’s master thief as we watch him do what he does best; pick pockets.

It was quick to skim through the frankly dull and clichéd police guff as Elba’s wildcard Briar is assigned to France against his superior’s (A heavily underused Kelly Reilly) better judgement. You couldn’t get anybody better than ol’ Luther (I mean Mr Elba) to play a stern no-holds-barred copper that does what it takes to get results.

Elba certainly did his best with the wafer thin role. His gravelly voice and stern delivery making the most generic of lines sound not quite so terrible. Madden was a charismatic lead. He has popped up in a number of different roles since GoT. One to watch. At least his troubled pick-pocket had a little more depth.

Most importantly when the bag he steals contains a bomb. Completely unaware, our small time petty thief dumps the bag, triggering the bomb and unleashing a mad packed chase around Paris.

The plot delivered enough suspense and cryptic puzzle solving for the first hour. A bigger play always in the work. BUT once the unravelling began, there were more questions than answers by the closing minutes.

If anything, it was a little ridiculous and oh so dreadfully predictable BUT what did you expect from a shoot em up? The action sequences were well executed. Tense, frantic and violent as hell. A rooftop chase was choreographed brilliantly. Nail-biting stuff.

Madden and Elba weren’t a bad duo. They worked well together BUT it just felt that with a better script and some better characters, this could have been so much more. It could have done with a little more banter and humour.

Some of the jokes just didn’t quite polish off as well as they could have. That’s not to say that there weren’t moments to be enjoyed. When an angry Briar finally catches Madden’s Michael and demands why he ran. Michael simply responds: “Have you seen yourself . . . You’d run to”.

Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk) played the conflicted resistance fighter well. It was just a shame that her character was pushed into the background once Madden and Elba were united. Only re-surfacing for the the mad dash finale.

Anybody could have played Kelly Reilly’s (True Detective) handler. And despite trying to involve her character (in a highly predictable twist) three quarters of the way into the film, you soon realised how unnecessary her character was. Disappointing.

Just when I thought the pace was lagging and the cliched exchanges were beginning to rear their ugly heads, I was soon rewarded with a frentic, in-your-face finale that was everything I expected.

It may have missed an opportunity BUT it was still an action packed thriller that hit the spot and killed the time. If you were expecting anything else, then move on.

3/5 (Just)

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*NEW* THE WALK REVIEW *NEW*

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A walk to remember?

In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon Levitt) recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Centre towers.

I was on a tightrope on deciding whether to see this or not. When I heard that Robert Zemeckis was adapting the incredible true story of Petit, my first thought was “Why? We already have an Oscar winning documentary about it”.

The bold BUT incredibly OTT opening with Levitt’s Petit standing on top of the Statue of Liberty waffling on about the beauty of the wire didn’t build my hopes up. However, Levitt’s charm and charisma was hard to resist and he delivered a fantastic performance as the tightrope artist. It was only by scrolling through some YouTube videos recently that I realised how good his performance. His accent was spot on.

The Walk started with a very easy going opening as we flick through Petit’s life as a street performer and delved into his passion for tightrope walking. It was beautifully shot. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography impressing me yet again. The mish-mash of monochrome with colour was very nice on the eye.

There was a Chaplinesque quality to the story telling as Petit struggles to make ends meet and falls for the lovely Charlotte Le Bon (The Hundred Foot Journey). The only problem was that the pace did drag and after the hour marker, the gang still hadn’t got to New York.

I was happy to watch Petit hone his craft under the watchful eye of Ben Kingsley’s bitter circus vendor Papa Rudy. BUT after half an hour, it felt a little repetitive. Rudy’s character was also a little weak. Kingsley did his best BUT he was soon thrown into the background.

I understand that the film is very much about Petit. BUT we had all these characters and only some of them managed to make a real impression. Le Bon and Levitt may have had good chemistry but their story line didn’t really go anywhere. She was left wondering around for most of the film with a pair of binoculars. And when their subplot did pick up, it was resolved quite unexpectedly and abruptly. Shame.

I loved the fact that in most of these movies; the cast just speak English when they are supposed to be from another country. However, this time around, Zemeckis tackles that quite well. Petit demands everyone speak English as he is practising before his trip to the Big Apple. The fact that everybody had a spout of speaking French, Ukrainian and all sorts was a nice change.

James Badge Dale managed to make a scene stealing supporting turn as JP. Their first meeting in a tech shop was hilarious. Cesar Domboy was the only other crew member that I could remember and that was only because he was the mathematician and strategist who suffered from bad vertigo. You could call it a mile off on what he was going to happen with the poor chap.

The last 45 minutes was superb. It was tense, suspenseful and that was just watching the crew trying to sneak their way into the Towers. The reconnaissance, the hiding, the fear of getting caught was brilliantly captured. It felt like something out of The Sting.

You always worry with a film of this magnitude that the build-up won’t pay off. That the very event that film is based around will not deliver. Well, have no fear. La piece de resistance was superb. The sweeping panoramic shots gave me vertigo as Petit stood at the end of a beam looking down 110 stories. I could feel butterflies in my stomach.

I was worried that the CGI might ruin the experience. There were moments where everything looked a little overdone. Too much animation. I wish I had invested in 3D or IMAX for this. It would definitely have enhanced everything.

From the moment, he takes his first step, I was transfixed. My heart was in my mouth. Even though I knew the outcome. I couldn’t believe it. Although, the CGI may have niggled at me, it was still stunning and a little sad to see the Twin Towers in all their glory.

There was a subtle but lovely end note to the piece. You cannot hide one remarkable event without remembering such a tragic one BUT it was a nice tribute.

The Walk could easily have been cut by a good half hour BUT that didn’t stop an enthralling sequence and a stellar performance from a very talented actor.

3/5