I get the impression that director Clint Eastwood is on the recent-real-American-heroes portion of his career. The 15:17 to Paris continues that trend with the, for lack of a better word, gimmick of casting the three young American men involved in the incident as themselves.
Hey, it worked for Audie Murphy.
Too bad it doesn’t work here.
The movie opens with some narration from Anthony Sadler, saying how the viewer might wonder how he became friends with men like Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. If so, stick around and find out. That’s the only voiceover in the entire movie. Some more at the end might have worked as an effective bookend.
However, the movie has two big problems. The first is the obvious one: Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone aren’t actors. Their line deliveries are often flat. Sadler may be the best of the three, which isn’t saying much, but he and Skarlatos seem to be competing for least amount of screentime. Stone, on the other hand, gets quite a bit, and its for a pretty good reason all told, but again, these guys aren’t actors.
Considering Eastwood’s reputation as a director is as a guy who doesn’t do a lot of takes, he may not have been the best choice to help three guys through what is probably their first acting roles.
By the by, three other people involved in the train incident also play themselves in the movie.
But even with some weak casting, there could have been something to make up for it with a good script. Instead, well, not really. Stone gets the most backstory, but at one point he and Sadler go backpacking through Europe and the movie seems to turn into a travelogue of neat places to see in Italy. Eventually, the pair hook back up with Skarlatos and get on the train to do the heroic thing they are remembered for. But for a movie where the opening narration says it is about how these three childhood friends came together to save lives, they sure don’t spend a lot of time together. Sadler and Stone have some scenes together here and there, but Skarlatos is practically in a different movie when the movie shifts to their adulthoods. It’s not a good script here.
Even the other professional actors don’t really do much here, though most of the ones I recognized I knew for their comedy work. There’s no conflict. At least with Sully, Eastwood invented a conflict with government investigators to create some drama. That just isn’t here.
So, let’s say four out of ten Eastwood-directed German Disco Raves.
Yes, there is a scene set at a Disco Rave in Germany.
But hey, maybe my time at the movies wasn’t all bad for this screening. There was one moment that honestly gave me goosebumps. Here it is:
Yeah, when a trailer is the best part of your viewing experience, that’s not a good thing.