The 15:17 to Paris story is an undeniably powerful tale of American heroism. The movie made from that story is an amateurish mess. Director Clint Eastwood has made the artistic decision to cast the real-life heroes as themselves, while also using seemingly first-time child actors to play the men in their boyhood year. It’s a key decision that turns out to be fatal to the film. There is also an overly divine and often preachy attitude toward devoutness that does nothing but further the notion this project should have wound-up on the Lifetime Channel, not on a big-screen with the venerable Eastwood at the helm.
Three Americans aboard a train en route from Italy to Paris thwart a terrorist attack. That’s the entirety of the tale. Eastwood and his screenwriters attempt to give us meaningful back story and a sense of real-world realism, but it all comes off an unworthy for the big screen. The main characters don’t do much of interest before the climactic attack. It’s so dull and lifeless that when the final moment of truth arrives the events are even more affecting because we’ve been lulled to near boredom for the previous 80 minutes.
If The 15:17 to Paris had been a HBO made of cable film then it would have been passable. Unfortunately, on a large screen in a packed movie house, the film dies on-screen. This isn’t to say that a documentary on the subject wouldn’t make for powerful viewing. However, the movie as presented here is barely in releasable form. The 15:17 to Paris is easily the worst film in director Eastwood’s long and distinguished career behind the camera.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer