When I first heard that The 15:17 to Paris was coming out, I wondered just how they would manage to turn this into a movie worth watching. Sure, the entire incident was riveting and harrowing, but the attempted terror attack only lasted for a number of minutes. With that being the case, it was clear that making a feature-length film about it was going to require some padding the run time and plenty of skill. If done correctly, there was a possibility that it could be a positive experience, but what were the chances of that actually happening?
The style in which this was actually going to be made was worrisome on its own, but any hope that I had that it could be a good movie faded the more I heard about it. What ended up sticking out to me after learning more wasn’t what they would add as filler. No, what stuck out to me the most was the fact that the lead characters were going to be played by the actual men (Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone) who were involved in the situation. On the surface, this didn’t sound like a good idea, and I unfortunately was right.
When judging the acting specifically, you can’t go as hard on the leads as you would under normal circumstances. Since they have no experience, it’s easy to see why their performances are of such poor quality. Right from the point where we first meet them, you’ll recognize that each of these guys needs some serious training. I guess they wanted to rush it out or something, but there’s no way any of these guys should have been allowed to step in front of a camera before they had any formal training.
Because of this, not only do you have poor performances, you also have a movie that never feels natural in the slightest. For a feature that’s based on a recent story that’s also true, that cannot be allowed to happen. This is the kind of movie that people can connect to in some way, so not taking the time to get the tone, style and feel right doesn’t make any sense. If done properly, there is a hit here that had the ability to engage people who want to see it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
In looking back at my original fear that I had about building a movie around one short event, I was proven right on that as well. Sitting through plenty of filler was to be expected, but there’s a way to do it in order to make it work. One of the ways to do that would have been not taking us all the way back to the trios time in middle school. In fact, what’s seen before their trip to Europe isn’t necessary. It’s just a way to waste time and extend this to over 90 minutes since they don’t have much else to utilize.
There’s an attempt to connect the single event to everything that’s being shown beforehand, but it’s forced and doesn’t work at all. Starting The 15:17 to Paris off when they land in Europe and skipping just about everything else that they decided to show ahead of time would have been the way to go. I guess the problem with doing that is that it becomes less patriotic, and that may be something that Eastwood and Warner Bros. will be using to sell it to the masses.
As a feature-length film, The 15:17 to Paris is a gamble that had very little chance of delivering a payoff. When going over the true story and everything that it entails, this would have been better off as a documentary. There just isn’t enough here and the heroes at the center of it all may have been more comfortable sitting down and speaking with someone who was interviewing them. Instead, we get a picture starring people who aren’t capable of playing as themselves in something that doesn’t have enough material to be an actual movie.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Film Length: 94 minutes
Release Date: February 9, 2018
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 3/103/10