“The 15:17 to Paris”: An Emotionless Trainwreck

 Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio

Clint Eastwood has taken a step back with his new feature film, “The 15:17 to Paris.” The director who often proves his patriotism through his movies depicting American heroes -- whether they be cowboys in the desert or soldiers in battle-- tried to step outside of the box and failed miserably. 

The documentary style movie is unique because the three main characters, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler, are played by themselves; however, that was Eastwood's biggest mistake. The director's classic style of slow rise action does not pair well with three guys who have probably never acted before in their lives.

The movie resembles something put together by high school students trying to pass their video production class. The acting that should be holding it all together until the climax is absent, therefore it loses the audience quickly. You would think the legendary director could have taught Spencer, Alek, and Anthony a few things about acting, instead most of the “acting” consisted of them taking selfies in various tourist destinations in Europe. 

The two single mothers of Skarlatos and Stone are played by Jenna Fischer (Heidi) and Judy Greer (Joyce); their characters portray some of the sparse emotion displayed in the movie. The two deeply intimate hugs between Fischer and Skarlatos bring most of the emotional appeal you can find in the film. 

As the movie is filmed in this documentary style that follows the three men through their elementary and high school struggles, it is met with random tidbits of the event on the train to keep the audience on their toes. These random clips are very short, and once they end, the movie goes back to the slow-paced body of the story.

The better acting throughout the film is done by the youngsters who play the three main characters as kids when they meet each other and develop their everlasting friendship. Bryce Gheisar (young Alek Skarlatos), William Jennings (young Spencer Stone), and Paul-Mikel Williams (young Anthony Sadler) bring to the film childish fun and humour, both of which could have been kept through the remainder of the movie to keep you from falling asleep in your seat. 

The film ends by tying the film to the real clip of the President of France, Francois Hollande, granting the three men medals of honor for saving 500 passengers on that train. The shooter had 50 or so rounds of ammunition in his bag, and without the courage (and luck that the shooter forgot to reload his gun as Spencer Stone darted towards him) of those three, the 15:17 to Paris would have been another unfortunate tragedy. The speech Francois Hollande gives is by far the best part of the movie by far. But you can avoid having to go through the painful acting and slow movie by looking up the video on YouTube, “Americans and Briton Who Thwarted Train Attack Get France's Top Honor | Mashable News.” 

All in all, this was not Clint Eastwood's best work, or even one of his good ones. Thankfully, the popcorn and Redvines kept me entertained more so than the sluggish pace of the poorly acted film. Save your money and time, do not get in line for this one.