‘The 15:17 To Paris’
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos
1.5 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: On August 21, 2015, Ayoub El-Khazzani attempted to commit a terrorist attack onboard a train from Amsterdam travelling to Paris, boarding with close to 300 rounds of ammunition. Only the heroics of Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and several other passengers stopped a tragedy, as they rose up and subdued El-Khazzani. “The 15:17 To Paris” tells Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos’ story, with the three real heroes portraying themselves in their acting debuts, too.
Review: Never let it be said that Clint Eastwood isn’t up for a challenge.
Because even at 87-years-old the director and Hollywood pillar continues to try and find new and extraordinary ways to bring heroic stories to the big-screen.
After the huge success of the bombastic “American Sniper,” and the surprising tenderness of the affecting “Sully,” Eastwood has now looked to merge reality with cinema by casting real-life heroes Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos in “15:17 To Paris.”
It’s a movie experiment that fails badly, though. Primarily because the leading trio aren’t actors and also clearly haven’t been asked to act. Instead they just coast through increasingly random and meaningless scenes, unaided by Eastwood’s emotionless direction, and completely hindered by a heavy-handed and blatant script.
Only the constant cutting back to the terrorist attack that made them heroes, and brought out the very best in humanity when confronted with the very worst, provides any rest-bite. That’s right, a terrorist attack provides the welcome relief.
But not even the climax of the film, where we see Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos subdue the terrorist and save the lives of those onboard, can make up for the painstaking tediousness that precedes it.
Basically “The 15:17 To Paris” is the cinematic equivalent of being forced to sit through your unfunny friend’s first attempt at stand-up, only for them to immediately become petrified and start to weep onstage. There’s just always a new reason to look away in embarrassment.
Hopefully this film will quickly fade into obscurity, and will forever be overshadowed by what Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos did that day. Because they’re clearly much better human beings than most of us will ever be, and, as such, deserve much better than “The 15:17 To Paris.”