Let me start by saying, I have the utmost respect for the three men who saved the lives of many people who were in that train. Based on a true story, The 15:17 to Paris is undeniably ambitious for attempting to showcase this event, but unfortunately this may be Clint Eastwood’s most underwhelming film in his entire career. What happened to this man? What happened to the filmmaker who directed Gran Torino?
The three men named Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, who literally play themselves in the movie, have been best friends since high school. Having not seen each other for a long time, they decide to reunite and take a trip to Europe. While riding a train heading straight to Paris, a terrorist boards the vehicle, and these three friends have to stop him from hurting anyone. Just to remind you again, this actually happened. If you know how the movie is going to end, it ends exactly how you think it’s going to end.
Speaking of the main heroes, their performances are a little awkward at times. It’s a very ambitious choice not casting actors to play these people, but not everything is going to be well translated on the big screen. Just because they’re literally being themselves, doesn’t make it an excuse to be dull. It’s interesting to see their friendship introduced in the beginning of the film, but then the pacing keeps dragging on with moments that moviegoers will not be interested in. Why is there a scene of them partying in the middle of the movie? It didn’t do anything for the plot…
Clint Eastwood has made great films based on true stories such as J. Edgar and American Sniper, so it’s no excuse for him to make a mediocre adaptation of a truly heroic event. He didn’t do the situation justice, especially with the first act bogging down the story and compromising the climax of the film. The audience knows what’s going to happen at the end, but they’re not going to care for it because the execution is very sloppy. What these three guys did is worth praising for sure, however it just doesn’t pay off at the end. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to do a movie based on a true story. It’s obvious that screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal struggles to write an interesting story adapted from a memoir, written by Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler, titled The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers.
Even if this film wasn’t based on what happened three years ago, it’s overall still boring and bland. To be clear, I’m not criticizing the story of these three heroes for defending hundreds of people on a train from an evil terrorist. I am criticizing the fact that The 15:17 to Paris didn’t do this situation any justice. This is just a suggestion, but it would have been better if this was made as a documentary rather than a feature-length film.
The 15:17 to Paris is now playing in theatres.