I’ve always liked Clint Eastwood. Whether playing Dirty Harry or the “Man with No Name”, he was the coolest dude on the big screen. In addition to liking him as an actor, I’ve always appreciated his talent behind the lens. Over the years, Eastwood has directed many powerful movies embracing many genres and subject matters. As in his acting, Eastwood’s minimalistic style has been one of his stronger attributes and as a director, that helps in articulating a theme.
Following a recent pattern of movies inspired by real life heroes, Eastwood continues that trend with The 15:17 to Paris. The story is pulled from an actual event that occurred in 2015.
While on a train to Paris, three American friends Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler helped thwart a terrorist attack. Their actions were truly heroic and saved many lives. In fact, because of their heroism, France awarded them their highest award, the Legion of Honour.
The big sell point of The 15:17 to Paris was casting the actual subjects to play themselves. Unfortunately, by not using real actors, the film is really hard to watch. Only Spencer Stone has any on screen presence, and for a movie that begs for onscreen chemistry, that’s a problem.
There are so many cringe worthy scenes that I couldn’t believe this was an Eastwood movie. It doesn’t help the dialogue is atrocious. Honestly, if a lesser director had produced this, their career may have been compromised. I’m surprised such a traditional style director would roll the dice on such a risky promise.
Ultimately, The 15:17 to Paris fails in its attempt to describe it’s idea of heroism and that’s a shame. The question of doing the right thing when it counts is the foundation for many Eastwood movies. The amateurish execution is simply embarrassing. Scenes that are meant to evoke emotion are short changed by the limits of faulty acting. Who knows, had the film used real actors, the outcome would have undoubtedly been better. I can’t believe this is the same man who directed Unforgiven.
At 87, I can’t imagine how he finds the energy to produce feature films yet wonder if this was his last hurrah. If so, thats a damn shame. For a story so inspiring, the outcome deserved a better result. Let’s just put an asterix next to this one and give Eastwood a mulligan.
Rating: 1.5 stars
In the early evening of August 21, 2015, the world watched in stunned silence as the media reported a thwarted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris—an attempt prevented by three courageous young Americans traveling through Europe. “The 15:17 to Paris” follows the course of the friends’ lives, from the struggles of childhood through finding their footing in life, to the series of unlikely events leading up to the attack.
Throughout the harrowing ordeal, their friendship never wavers, making it their greatest weapon and allowing them to save the lives of the more than 500 passengers on board. The heroic trio is comprised of Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, who play themselves in the film.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Dorothy Blyskal