Terrible acting, an atrocious script and boring action, The 15:17 to Paris is unbelievably difficult to watch and fails to properly honour the real-life heroes.
In recent years, old Dirty Harry himself Clint Eastwood has mastered the biopic, bringing us the likes of American Sniper with Bradley Cooper and Sully with Tom Hanks. To raise American spirits once again, Eastwood is back with his latest biopic, The 15:17 to Paris. The film tells the true story of three Americans: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, who stopped a terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in August 2015. It is a very dangerous, but also an interesting event to capture for a film, especially considering that Clint Eastwood cast the actual three heroes of those events in the lead roles. He definitely seeks to add some novelty to the movie with this, unfortunately, The 15:17 to Paris falters, resulting in a rather disappointing and boring film.
The first thing that sticks out is the terrible acting of all three heroes. They’re not able to change their facial expressions in various situations and their physical performance is stagnant, they are painfully robotic and incredibly artificial, we can feel that almost every situation is contrived. Instead of taking us into the plot, the movie is rather taking us out of it. Nonetheless, it’s not their fault, those three Americans are not professional actors and Clint knew that casting them. It’s a mistake on his part to experiment by bringing some unsafe novelty to the picture which doesn’t work out in the end. Some will say that we wouldn’t know it if he didn’t do that. Indeed, but the price for that was too high. It’s the wrong movie to experiment in because of this letdown.
Eastwood’s real aim was to show that everyone, even the most average person, can be a hero and do amazing and admirable things. Nevertheless, the way he presents that in the film is just unbearable. For a significant part of The 15:17 to Paris, we just watch the main characters holidaying and in daily situations, their participation of which is incredibly boring. Before this, we get a look at their difficult childhood and struggles at school, and how the three didn’t have any other friends than just themselves.
Except for the action, the dialogue in the film is, putting it mildly, just atrocious! That is one of the reasons why the heroes cannot feel more spontaneous on screen and it causes them to behave so artificially and unnaturally. Hiring a debutant screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal was ultimately a huge mistake that cost the film a lot. It seems that both Eastwood and Blyskal didn’t spend enough time to actually think if their direction and writing would attract the viewer’s attention and leave them satisfied.
The ending, however, is the most exciting part of the whole movie. We have an opportunity to see how Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler dealt with the terrorist and how it looked, but it only takes 15 minutes of the picture. In hindsight, had Eastwood decided to make it as a documentary, maybe then the film would work out. It is really hard to criticize the legend that is Clint Eastwood; a badass on screen and a truly talented visionary director. However, perhaps it’s time for Dirty Harry to finish directing movies and busy himself with acting, maybe even retirement. What is one bad film against the recent two which were quite good?
The 15:17 to Paris (2018), directed by Clint Eastwood, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros., certificate 15.