Review: The 15:17 to Paris

The 15:17 to Paris
5 10

PLOT: The true story of Thalys train attack heroes Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos.

REVIEW: From day one, critics have been sharpening their knives for Clint Eastwood’s THE 15:17 TO PARIS. His decision to cast Stone,Sadler and Skarlatos as themselves was widely met with derision and near-scorn despite his enviable track record, but the fact remains - this would be a dicey proposition for a director at the peak of their powers. Eastwood, for all his talent, also has a habit of breezing through films in recent years, with many of them containing glaring gaffes like the horrible process shot work in JERSEY BOYS or the fake baby in AMERICAN SNIPER - things that would have been quick fixes had Eastwood thought they were important enough to fix.

THE 15:17 TO PARIS needed to be impeccable to work, and sadly Eastwood’s not up to it this time. Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos are clearly nice guys, and their heroism cannot be denied. But actors they are not, and they’re left high and dry by Eastwood’s oddball, poorly paced - and dare I say it - sometimes poorly directed film.

The screenplay is more than a little shaggy, but I hesitate to lay much blame at writer Dorothy Blyskal’s feet. If you’re basing an entire film around a five minute sequence (which - to Eastwood’s credit - is impeccable), there has to be something more to it. One way into the story would have been to focus on the relationship between the guys,, but there’s absolutely nothing there. Their childhood is quickly depicted in a few cheesy sequences set at a Christian school, which is where the legit actors mostly appear, with Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer struggling with the cheesiness of their lines, especially when confronted by a ludicrously two-dimensional teacher who says the boys are ADD and need to be medicated (Eastwood’s swipe at over-medication?). Thomas Lennon and Tony Hale play their parts for comedy, pretty much the only way I suppose to save some face, while Jaleel White has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part as an inspiring teacher. He’s the only one whose performance is really convincing here.

Other than the climactic attack, the best scenes depict Stone’s military training, with the documentary-style working in these scenes, before Eastwood moves on to an endlessly dull travelogue taking the boys around Europe. Eastwood almost seems to be deliberately trying to bore the audience, with real-time visits to ice cream shops and tone-deaf banter between the guys that makes me wonder whether anyone involved has any real sense of how young twenty-something friends relate to each other. Eastwood’s one of the greatest icons of the last 100 years, but this is him trying to do a Richard Linklater movie, and he seems to have no idea what makes films of that kind work.

Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos do their best, but Eastwood is not the guy to direct them. Simply put, he’s not careful enough, with bad line readings that should have been redone making their way into the movie (an example comes literally in the first scene with Sadler’s abysmal narration). He’s celebrating the guys, and they deserve it because what they did is damn heroic, but this does them no favors. A straight documentary or a film with actors in their parts would have made for a more lasting tribute to their heroism. This is well-intentioned, but outside the train attack, deadly-dull.

Source: JoBlo.com



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