“The 15:17 to Paris” is directed by Clint Eastwood and it’s based off of the true event that was the 2015 attempted hijacking of a train while it was en route to Paris. In the real life event, three American men, one Frenchmen, and a Briton were able to successfully stop a terrorist from hijacking a train and now this movie is telling the story of the three Americans and their lives leading up to the attack. Why no love for the French or British heroes? I have my own theories on that, but now’s not the time for that. Now is simply the time to judge this movie as a piece of film.
The real life event truly is an incredible story and the heroes who stopped the attack deserve all the credit in the world for what they did. I remember seeing it on the news a few years ago and I still think it’s just a solid tale of good people putting their lives on the line to save countless of innocent civilians. The problem, though, is that the event itself lasted only a few minutes and this movie is 94 minutes long. How can Clint Eastwood possibly pull off telling this story and making it last an hour and a half? Well, it turns out that he can’t.
To start with the acting, let’s talk about the fact that the real life heroes from the event are actually portraying themselves in this movie. And let me again emphasize that these guys truly are heroes for what they did and I’m not trying to take away from the event itself, but we need to call a spade a spade; these guys are not good actors. Sorry, but they’re not. I can understand why Eastwood would want to cast the real life men in these roles, but it was a mistake. That’s why we have actual ACTORS so that they can ACT in a movie. These guys have awkward delivery and there are some scenes where they look just plain uncomfortable. Other professional actors such as Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer make appearances, but they’re not enough to carry the bad performances from the three leads.
I really wish that I could say that the acting is the worst part of the film, but it’s not. This movie is just flat-out fucking boring. The first half of this movie is literally nothing more than the three guys just hanging out and doing stuff. They’re ordering food, they’re talking about pizza, they’re just hanging out with each other and saying really forced lines like “Shut the heck up” and “Hey I’m just chillin'” There’s no narrative or theme to any of it. It’s literally just Clint Eastwood filming a group of guys on vacation and that’s it.
And when the movie isn’t dedicating a whole scene to the guys simply ordering gelato, it’s beating us over the head with these preachy lines about “destiny” and “fate”. There’s one line in this movie (it was also in the trailer) that goes like “You ever feel like life is pushing us to some greater purpose?” For one, that has cliched Hollywood writing all over it and I don’t buy for a second that that conversation actually took place in real life. Second, that line is so on-the-nose and forced, the actor may as well have looked directly to the camera and said “I’m going to stop a terrorist attack on a train”. None of this movie feels authentic or genuine; it just feels like a cheesy, by-the-numbers retelling of a true story.
What really pissed me off about this movie was that there’s even a scene dedicated solely to preaching about the power of prayer and how it’s a better substitute than medicine when it comes to treating mental illness. I don’t care how religious you are, you CANNOT be so ignorant that you would endorse treating mental illness with nothing more than just praying whilst also holding a stance that’s completely anti-medicine and to a broader extent, anti-science. I didn’t think that Eastwood would stoop so low, but he has officially directed a movie that momentarily feels like “God’s Not Dead 3”.
The only part of this movie that I liked was obviously the actual attack scene. It’s intense, the fighting is actually well-filmed, and the actors are clearly putting in some effort to make the scene come off as real as it was back in 2015. Eastwood knows how to film an action scene and this was the only part of this movie that felt as if there was an earnest, competent attempt at film-making. Sadly, it doesn’t save the rest of the film.
Overall, “The 15:17 to Paris” was shockingly bad. I went into this movie expecting a simple retelling of a true story and I figured that it’d be similar to Eastwood’s “Sully”, it being a movie that gives us a peek behind the curtain at some interesting drama before and after a big event. But instead, we got a poorly acted, melodramatic, cheesy bore of a movie. None of this is to take away from the actual heroes in real life, but in critiquing this a piece of film from an established director like Eastwood, I just have to be honest and say that this movie was poorly made and I think you’d be better of just reading about the event on Wikipedia.
Rating: Some Ol’ Bullshit