The 15:17 to Paris review
We seem to be living in a world where there are more terrorist attacks. Regardless of why this is happening, it's important that people keep preparing themselves to take proper caution. How they do so is anyone's guess. The best bet is to not only identify where they can hide, but how they can get as far away from any attackers as possible. There are some that may be willing to fight off any potential terrorist, but this should only be reserved for expert survivors. What makes it difficult is that even if an attacker doesn't have a gun, their probably going to have another weapon like a knife.
Because that most terrorists have weapons, few people are going to fight back. For three guys during one trip to Europe in 2015, they took a chance to save a train full of people. A terrorist had brought an semi automatic and several knives. Three Americans, Spencer Stone, Alex Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler, held him off, got everyone to move to the front of the train, and kept the attacker subdued until the train could stop. There is clearly a good story that needs to be told. It's too bad we got The 15:17 to Paris as a result.
Growing up in Sacramento, Spencer Stone and Alex Skarlatos are two middle school boys who are obsessed with the military, war, and just playing around. When they prove to be troublemakers, their mothers instead have them going to a private Christian school where they continue to be trouble for their teachers. They eventually add a new student Anthony Sadler into the group as they continue to talk war, guns, and whatever makes them friends. Despite their struggles in school, their mothers stick up for them.
When Spencer later meets a Marine recruiter, he decides to enlist in the Air Force, hoping to end up in the pararescue. His lack of depth perception prevents him from getting that, but ends up in another department. Alex has also joined, but is in the Middle East. On Skype, all three talk and decide to take a trip to Europe. They hit Germany, Italy, and Amsterdam and seem to have fun…that is until they get on that train where the terrorist attempts an attack.
For The 15:17 to Paris, director Clint Eastwood has casted the original men from the historical event to reenact their heroism. It's a neat experiment that could add some realism into the scenario. The big question is whether these guys can act. Overall, all three guys, Spencer, Alex, and Anthony, can act enough to play themselves. Its just that the rest of the movie isn't that good…and it's not even the actors fault. Many of the films shortcomings is on the script which seemed to have trouble getting the story beyond the terrorist attack. Eastwood's previous film Sully showed that if you explore the personality of the hero and what it meant to the event, it can turn a small event into a big movie.
The problem is that while it tries to do something similar to our three heroes, its fails really bad. The first half hour is on the boys when their children, which feels so chipper and campy, that I couldn't believe that Eastwood directed it. Once they become adults, much of the core emotional elements are replaced with Spencer applying with the military and…going through it with him. Even when the guys meet up to go to Europe, we never learn anything new about them. It's just like seeing vacation footage…and not even interesting footage. It's all just boring filler until we get to the train segment.
We know that Clint Eastwood is more then capable of making stories about heroes; stories about true Americans who are risking everything to make everything safe. So how could he have made The 15:17 to Paris so dull? I've said before that the jumbled and poorly written script by newcomer Dorothy Blyskal is to blame. Instead of becoming an exploration of these three friends and their connection, everything plays out like a bad Christian movie; afraid of really exploring the issue in favor of making our guys look good.
I'll give this one and a half European trains out of five. This isn't just a bad movie from Eastwood, but a shockingly bad film from him. I hope that the book this movie is based on is better. Because for a movie to take these heroes and make them this boring, I hope that this writer is reduced to writing for the worst TV show out there. This reenactment is nowhere close to real life.