REVIEW: The 15:17 to Paris
Directed by Clint Eastwood
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris stars Spencer Stone, Alex Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler; the three real men who stopped a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015. The film co-stars Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer, and also takes a look at the childhood of the three men and their lives leading up to the event.
In a repeat of my feelings towards his last film Sully, Eastwood as a director seems uninterested in telling stories like Unforgiven and Gran Torino which challenge narratives and gives one a thoughtful story. Instead, his style now is to present real-world stories about people fighting for America, and that’s it.
It made sense for a movie called American Sniper, and at least Sully had some solid questions about accepting fame for just doing one’s job. However, The 15:17 to Paris has about 10 minutes of timely and dramatic content, which is the train attack, and fills up the remaining 90 minutes with awful dialogue, poor acting and clunky, uneventful storytelling.
It’s admirable to cast the real guys to play themselves, but the ambition has backfired as not one of these three guys can act. I’ve seen people with no experience ever acting turn out brilliant performances, and Eastwood was probably hoping for some raw truth. What he gives us instead is just three guys saying heavy-handed lines to one another that mean absolutely nothing.
The first HALF of this movie is spent with the younger versions of the three guys, and while the child actors aren’t doing any better than the real people, it’s still setting up their close relationships with one another. But by the time they grow up, that set-up is completely forgotten by Eastwood.
The movie then just powers through the next half full of Spencer Stone’s military training struggles, nothing happening with Sadler and Skarlatos, and then just randomly they’re all in Europe after two Skype calls. I understand that Eastwood wants to show reality, but a movie is meant to give you dramatic purpose in its scenes and characters. All three of these guys do absolutely nothing in the Italy, Germany and Amsterdam scenes, and soon enough they’re on the train, the attack is stopped and movie over. That’s it. Nothing else.
Eastwood is a Hollywood legend but his vision is void of purpose, this movie doesn’t tell you any ground breaking story of heroism, courage or even religion (that’s a HEAVY theme) and so it simply exists. A short documentary would be better, but as a full motion picture The 15:17 to Paris is boring, unremarkable and just unnecessary.