Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Ryan Guerra0
The 15:17 To Paris
Based on book, The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, the film, The 15:17 to Paris tells the story of three America friends who stop a terrorist attempt on a train to Paris.
The men are heroes and it is inspiring to see how ordinary people can step up and put their lives at risk to save lives.
As such, this film would have been better told as a short documentary. Mostly because I found myself wondering what these men were thinking in those moments. How were they feeling when they saw people running and heard a gunshot. What made them take action? Was there doubt? And how did their friendship/bond contribute to being able to support each other in that moment and after?
Unfortunately, we do not get the answers to these questions. Instead Director Clint Eastwood decided to make a film that was trying to imitate real life as much as possible. So much so, the three actual heroes Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos play themselves. If Eastwood’s goal was to show how mundane life is in every day moments and a terrorist attack can happen at any moment in any mundane situation and end just as quickly, he succeeded. These three friends have cringe worthy dialogue that goes nowhere throughout the story. It makes these real life friends feel like they do not have any chemistry as it is clear they all feel out of their element in front of the camera. Not exactly the level of amateurism you would expect from a full feature film.
The semi bright spot is when we are shown how these three men became friends as boys and how they grew up. We get an understanding of how they like to play “war” in their back yard and how they would get in trouble but still have each other’s back when it counted. However, like the rest of this film, I wish this was told as a documentary or dramatic documentary. I wanted to hear from them firsthand what they thought about their friendship and how it evolved.
Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos are Heroes. They deserve better than this film. These three men deserve an opportunity to have their story told so people everywhere can care and understand. One of them had a call to duty because of his grandfather who served in WWII. What did that truly mean to him? We don’t know. One felt like he was being pushed to greatness by the universe. What did that mean to him now that it’s happened? We don’t know because we don’t hear from him first hand. The other was always just looking to have a good time. How does he feel about what happened and his friends? We don’t know. Because we are never given anything buy hollow dialogue, some loose information to surmise these things and bad screen chemistry from three real life friends.
I left the movie in awe of what the trio did in a moment where most people would run or think only of themselves. But I cannot in good faith recommend anyone spend money at a theater for a film that feels like it was produced by an amateur and should have been premiered on YouTube.
2.5 stars out of 5