By: Reel 127 (Six Pack) –
Believe it or not this movie was originally supposed to be part of the Oscars season campaign. Clint Eastwood has a tendency to be quick with finishing his movies once they’re started. American Sniper started filming March 31, 2014 and was premiered a little over seven months later. So when it was announced The 15:17 to Paris would begin shooting in summer it still wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to be finished by the end of the year. But for whatever reason this didn’t happen, and the film got released at a time when people were likely to go see anything else that was in theaters.
The 15:17 to Paris is the story of three Americans: Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos. In 2015, the three were on a train heading from Amsterdam to Paris when a man attempted a terrorist attack. They quickly subdued the attacker and prevented a tragedy. A very interesting story for a film. Though it could have been handled better than what we actually got.
I’m not going to lie. I’m having a hard time trying to come up with something nice to say about this movie. The story is interesting and personally I had not heard that much about it before this movie was announced. Maybe because the news would spend more time covering and discussing a tragedy rather than an averted tragedy. So I commend the filmmakers for trying to give life to this story. Try being the keyword.
Buckle up. This is going to be a bumpy ride.
By the opening line it is clear the movie is going to have problems. Sadler gives voice over to introduce himself and his friends who are the main characters. One of the most overused ways to start a movie! On top of that, Sadler was the one of the three who most obviously couldn’t act. A lot of time is spent on Stone and fortunately he is the most passable actor of the group. But so many of the line deliveries made me cringe. If I hadn’t know they had cast the real people in this movie before I saw it, I would have wonder why they picked such bad actors.
Oddly enough, it was originally announced that Eastwood had picked real actors including Alexander Ludwig from The Hunger Games to star. Then three weeks later it was announced the real men involved would be starring. I don’t know what happened in between, but this was a turn for the worse.
Speaking of bad actors, the child actors aren’t much better. There was one scene where a teacher asked a young Stone where his hall pass is, then Stone takes one of his Class President campaign posters off the wall. He tears it in half in the teacher’s face and says “Here’s my hall pass.” I laughed out loud because I was so baffled by this. During the protagonists’ childhoods all their teachers and principal seem to be out to get them.
Was the real villain the terrorist?…
Or the principal!?
They may have had a tough time in school, but for a movie that’s supposed to be about a terrorist attack on a train, they spend way too much time showing how none of the boys’ teachers thought they would grow up to have any value in society. One of the first scenes is Stone and Skarlatos’s mothers meeting with the boys’ teacher. The teacher recommends giving the boys ADD medication and the mothers get upset. It came off as oddly anti-school, without really offering a remedy to the problem.
The one teacher who was nice and believed in the boys was their history teacher. But he’s in only one scene. And as far as I can tell the only purpose he served was to spout a speech with super obvious foreshadowing about doing the right thing in a split second. He was talking about Franklin D. Roosevelt, which turns into, “Could you do the right thing when you only have a second to think?” It’s around this time we realize the main problem with the movie. The script.
The script for The 15:17 to Paris is written by Dorothy Blyskal. And according to IMDB she has no other film writing credits. And it really shows. Nobody in this movie talks like a human being. So many of the lines are just exposition. Everyone is either comically heroic, or comically villainous.
This movie just drags for so long. It’s only 94 minutes long, but it feels much longer than two hours. Again, this is thanks to the poor script with the pacing being all over the place. It was halfway through the run-time before Stone and Skarlatos were joining the military. So many scenes have no purpose. There’s a point where Sadler and Stone meet a girl in Venice and take her to a few places. She doesn’t come back, she isn’t referenced again, she’s just there for a bit and then gone. My best guess is that they met this woman in real life when they were traveling through Europe, but including it derails the storytelling (not that there was much to begin with).
This shot from the trailer is actually
him running to class because he overslept.
Not for any heroic reason like you are led to believe.
The best part of the movie is when they are actually stopping the attacker on the train. The whole scene only lasts a few minutes and by the time it’s done it feels incredibly anti-climactic because of everything you had to sit through to get to it. They kept cutting from the attack to long periods of flashbacks of the boys growing up. Breaking up the tension until the men actually intervene on the train. Just before the gunman came out shooting they cut to shots of all the other people who are on the train. It was then that I realized I didn’t know anything about these people.
The one guy who gets shot has less screen time
then Tony Hale as the gym teacher.
There was a girl who was hiding under the table right where all the action was happening. Every time they cut to a shot of her in tears I couldn’t help but think “Why should I care about her? What have you shown about this character to make me care about her?” This goes for pretty much every character in the movie. You may notice I refer to very few by their names. And that’s because that was all I was given about these characters. People flutter in and out of this movie with no purpose.
Skip this. Skip this like the plague. If you really want to know more about this story check out the Wikipedia page. It’ll save you time and money. Maybe this could have been a short film of just the events on the train. You still could cast the real people involved and not have to expect them to perform as long. Had there been a lot, and I mean a lot, of changes to this movie, it could have been good. But the final product is not worth anyone’s time. I had more fun watching the Avengers: Infinity War trailer for the 5,238th time before this movie than The 15:17 to Paris.
The 15:17 to Paris (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the story jumps from the train to the boys’ backstory.
Take a Drink: every time you realize one of the guys playing themselves can’t act.
Take a Drink: for every distractingly recognizable actor that takes away from the “realism” of the movie.
Do a Shot: for every “inspirational” speech that is out of the place in the movie and only serves to enhance the trailer.
Take a Drink: when every shot from the trailer turns out less heroic when you have context.
Take a Drink: every time somebody orders food or a drink.
Finish Your Drink: when you wish the movie would end quicker.