There’s probably an exciting story to be told and a worthwhile film to be made about the Thalys train incident that saw three American childhood friends with a military background thwart a terrorist attack. However, The 15:17 to Paris certainly isn’t it. It is, however, Clint Eastwood’s worst film to date, a bafflingly mishandled dud which singularly fails to engage audiences in the real-life events that took place in August 2015.
The main talking point surrounding the film is Eastwood’s bold decision to cast the actual men who prevented the attack to play themselves. This ambitious gambit sadly ends up as a very hollow piece of stunt casting: actors, they are not, and United 93, this ain’t. It reeks of misguided smugness from the director, who reverse-engineers an uninspired 94-minute film around a short-lasting event, one that in no way justifies a padded-out and nuance-free tale of friendship, as we needlessly watch the dramatisation of the young men’s lives that lead up to them boarding the train in Amsterdam.
While Eastwood’s intention to pay tribute to these men and their act of heroism may have started off as honourable, and even if the well-staged attack in the last minutes of the film does impress, nothing redeems the acting, the laughably tin-eared dialogue, nor the cloyingly self-serving 80 minutes of sheer boredom that leads to an all-too-brief payoff. It should have never left the station.
15:17 To Paris | Directed by Clint Eastwood (US, 2018), with Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone. Starts April 19.
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