‘The 15:17 to Paris’: well-intentioned true life story disappoints

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Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses.

GRADE: F

Heroism is a hard thing to commit to. Being able to put others before yourself and your safety is something to be respected. It’s seen in the people who donate their kidneys to strangers, in the people who fight for our country overseas and in the three people this film is about.

Making a good movie, on the other hand, is not hard to commit to. Big-budget movies employ thousands of people in their production, and are overseen by studio executives to ensure the film being made is quality.

“The 15:17 to Paris” is not a good movie, not even close. But this could have been deduced from the casting announcement for this film: the real-life heroes would play themselves.

So here’s that real-life story:

Three American men – Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone – were vacationing in Europe in 2015, when they boarded a train in Amsterdam to travel to Paris. While on board, a terrorist welding an AK-47 and carrying almost 300 pounds of ammunition attempted an attack on the 554 people on board. After one person was shot, the three American friends confronted the terrorist and subdued him before he was able to harm anyone else.

In addition to being invited to the White House to be thanked by President Obama, President Hollande of France made the men Knights of the Legion of Honour, a high distinction in the country.

This story is a great one, but it should’ve stayed just that: a great story, not a bad movie. In a lot of ways, having the actual heroes play themselves cheapens what they did that day on the train.

After a major book deal, multiple guest appearances on talk and game shows like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and now this film, it’s fair to say that the world knows of these men’s bravery.

This movie is a mess. The entire plot hinges on the men’s 15 minutes of heroic action – the first hour of the film is just them growing up and pursuing careers. The film cuts between footage of the train attack and the men’s young lives in a series of strange juxtapositions.

Most of the film focuses around Stone, I would wager because of his involvement with the military and director Clint Eastwood’s affinity for it in his films. Most of this movie seems like it’s just a compilation of things Eastwood appreciates: Christianity, the U.S. military and, judging by the number of shots dedicated to it, butts. Yes, there’s a truly cringe-worthy montage of the men dancing with women in Amsterdam and the camera wastes no time panning to their rear ends.

Watching these three men act on screen is almost painful. They have no background in professional acting, and it makes absolutely no sense to have them play themselves – other than a cheap marketing stunt to slap on the movie posters.

Eastwood has made a multitude of amazing films over the course of his career, but “The 15:17 to Paris” isn’t one of them. It’s his worst film to date.

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