After seeing Clint Eastwood’s phenomenal films such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, one would think that this whole filmmaking thing wouldn’t be too difficult for him anymore. However, The 15:17 to Paris seems to be a disappointing headscratcher. The film tells us the story of the three heroic men; Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, who were responsible for stopping a gunman on board a train in France. Eastwood made the interesting decision for the three heroes to play themselves, in an attempt to make the film more realistic. However, the film is anything but realistic.
The best way to describe this film is “awkward”. The movie begins with showing them as children in middle school doing…. middle school things. The thing is, none of this has anything to do with the heroic event that viewers have to wait almost an hour and a half to see. From there, we observe their lives in the military, and then their sightseeing in Italy. The point here is that almost everything that occurs before the event, is basically useless to the plot and is just flat out boring. Eastwood was attempting to give us a “slice of life” type of scenario and was attempting to make us realize how their lives were before the attack. It does not achieve Eastwood’s intentions and ends up being brutally mundane and aimless.
Although, the most obvious problem with The 15:17 to Paris is the acting. The three main leads are not actors, so their performances should not be blamed for their inadequacy. However, if there were different choices, the film would have had a much higher chance of being an overall success. The awkwardness of the surrounding characters including; their mothers, their basketball coach, the military trainers, and the hall monitor, all add to the distinctive forced nature of a film that is meant to give us a true sense of reality.
The 15:17 to Paris is a great way to waste your time. If you’re in the mood for a boring and mindless trap, then have at it. However, every time there is a negative, there is some sort of positive. The film does try to be respectable about the event and the heroes who made the miracle happen. It sheds them in a great light, but that light could have been a lot brighter. All in all, this movie could be enjoyed by some who are just looking for a true story flick that gives a behind the scenes of real life heroes.
Most embarrassing scene: The awkward voice over in the opening
Redeeming scene: The tense moments on board the train
Rewatchability: 25% (only if you want to fast-forward to the train scene)