On the eve of Bastille Day in Paris, American drifter and pickpocket Michael Mason steals a woman's handbag, not knowing that it contains explosives. After he drops the bag off, it detonates and kills four people. Upon being captured by CIA agent Sean Briar, who is being reprimanded for irresponsible conduct on the job, Mason protests that he is not a terrorist, and tells Briar that the bag contained a cell-phone with a contact named Zoe. The bomb was set up by a group of corrupt policemen led by Rafi Bernard, all of them members in the French special force RAPID who intend to pull a robbery at the French National Bank. Zoe was told to plant the bomb at the office of the French Nationalist Party (as part of a diversion for the heist), but after seeing the night cleaning crew arrive, she was unwilling to kill innocents and so abandoned the plan. Zoe's boyfriend Jean, one of the conspirators, allows her to escape, realizing that his compatriots will kill her.
The group tracks Zoe's phone to Briar's and Mason's location. Briar engages the conspirators, who subdue him, while Mason escapes. Rafi's team proceeds to plant fake evidence at a mosque and stir up a nationwide uproar among its Islamic population, using agitating hashtags on the Internet. Chased by the French authorities and Rafi's forces, Mason is picked up by Briar, who has come to believe his story and intends to clear the case with his help, even against the orders of his superiors. They track Zoe to the hideout of her friend Paul and his motorcycle gang, but the gang fires their car to cover their escape. Appropriating another car, they track Paul down to the bar where he works, and Mason instigates a brawl, during which he steals Paul's ID card.
Mason and Briar use the card to find out Paul's address, where Zoe is hiding, and manage to gain her cooperation. Zoe leads them to Jean's apartment, where they find his body and an ID and badge identifying him as a police officer. Briar informs his colleague, Karen Dacre, who confers with her French contact, DGSI Director Victor Gamieux, about taking Mason and Zoe into protective custody. However, Gamieux, actually the mastermind of the heist conspiracy, kills Dacre after obtaining the information he needs and sends a pickup team consisting of his henchmen. Briar, Mason and Zoe manage to pick up clues about the men's true allegiance and fight their way out of the deathtrap. Now realizing Gamieux's hand in the game, the three head toward the French National Bank.
When a crowd of protestors masses at the front of the bank—as the conspirators have intended—Gamieux assigns Rafi's RAPID team to the building to provide interior security, thus facilitating the digital robbery of its entire monetary reserves (half a billion euros). Upon arriving at the bank, Briar disguises himself as a RAPID officer and manages to gain access to the building before he is found out. Hearing of his predicament over their stolen police van's radio, Zoe and Mason start a riot among the protestors, who storm the bank and overpower the RAPID troopers closing in on Briar. Briar subsequently infiltrates the vault and engages Rafi and his remaining henchman. Rafi escapes with the USB flash drive on which the money has been downloaded, but Briar contacts Mason, who steals the flash drive from Rafi. Upon noticing the theft, Rafi takes Zoe hostage. Gamieux, trying to salvage his plan, commands a squad of policemen to shoot and kill Rafi, and Mason escapes with the flash drive.
Some time later, Mason, working with Briar and French law enforcement, meets with Gamieux on the pretense of trading the flash drive for a passport and a ride out of the country, leading to the latter's arrest. The charges against Mason are dropped, and he is offered a job with the CIA.Idris Elba as Sean Briar, a CIA agent.
Richard Madden as Michael Mason, an American pickpocket living in Paris.
Charlotte Le Bon as Zoe Neville, an anti-fascist protestor.
Kelly Reilly as Karen Dacre, a senior CIA agent.
José Garcia as Victor Gamieux, the director of the DGSI.
Thierry Godard as Rafi Bertrand, a corrupt commander in the French National Police RAPID Unit.
Anatol Yusef as Tom Luddy, leader of the CIA surveilleance unit in Paris.
Eriq Ebouaney as Baba, Mason's black market contact for stolen goods.
On 11 November 2013, Idris Elba joined the cast of the film. On 2 October 2014, Richard Madden joined the cast. On 18 May 2014, Focus Features acquired the rights to distribute the film in North America. Principal photography began on 13 October 2014 in Paris, and ended on 17 December 2014.
The film was scheduled to be released on 19 February 2016 in the United Kingdom. However, following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, the film was delayed. Bastille Day was released simultaneously in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden on 22 April 2016. In France, the film was released on 13 July 2016 to coincide with the dates in the story. Following the 2016 Nice attack, Studiocanal pulled the film from theatres on 17 July 2016, citing it as a "sign of respect for the victims and their families."
Bastille Day received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 45%, based on 64 reviews, with a rating of 5.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Bastille Day proves Idris Elba is an action hero in waiting – specifically, waiting for a script that deserves his talents". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 49 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".