Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

'The 15:17 To Paris' Review: A Big But…

'The 15:17 To Paris' Review: A Big But…

Toward the end of the film, the plot finally progresses into the attack, and the trio's heroics on the train are not for the faint of heart.

The story portrayed in "The 15:17 to Paris" is based on a very real event: when three men prevented a terror attack on a train heading to Paris in 2015. There was the massive hit American Sniper, then the story of hero airline pilot Sully, and now perhaps his riskiest bet yet in The 15:17 to Paris.

Three real-life heroes are now playing themselves in Clint Eastwood's new film "15:17 to Paris".

Superficially speaking, there might not be much in common between Akshay Kumar and Clint Eastwood, besides of course that both have films that released in India on the same Friday - but the slightest bit of digging will uncover similarities that can not be overlooked. Edgar and Jersey Boys and your film would be of a similar quality.

The friends recounted how on August 21, 2015, they boarded the 15:17 from Amsterdam to Paris.

And boy, is it a miserable experience to endure. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler ultimately subdued the terrorist, saving many lives. "As long as you're doing something to contribute, I think the world would be a better place". For whatever reason, Eastwood has chose to fill out the cast with comedic actors, nearly distractingly so at times. The film shows how they used to get into trouble in school and how two of them, Skarlatos and Stone, ended up in the military.

It's distracting enough to completely upend the tone of that crucial first act, and it's bad enough that the film can't really recover by the time that the three take center stage.

At the screening I attended, the audience applauded when the credits rolled, but more, it seems, to honor the men who risked their own lives to save the lives of others than this awkward, flat-footed attempt to re-create their bravery. The four were hailed as global heroes and received various honors for their valor. Probably not. But are they worthy of the hyperbolic vitriol that will be hurled at them by other critics? Well, Eastwood has put non-professional actors to good use in the past (Gran Torino), but in this case the story behind the film might be more interesting. But that thinking can get you in a lot of trouble.

Blyskal does her best with themes that involve the unpredictability of tomorrow and the foreboding of the incoming terrorist incident, Stone constantly believing that he has something more important to do in his near future, but the set-up of the movie doesn't work in the slightest. Scenes often drift together in an empty haze, free of energy and dynamism, and much of the film feels like filler rather than necessary context.

The famously gruff Eastwood, 87, loathes having to take fan selfies. These real-life heroes play themselves in the film.

And never is this more apparent than in the final minutes of the film, when it finally arrives at the moment towards which it has been hurtling towards for nearly an hour-and-a-half. Eastwood stages the climactic confrontation with a taut sense of intimacy and urgency, making the hour-plus that precedes it feel mostly like a meandering waste of time.

I'll give filmmaker Clint Eastwood points for trying something different, even if it doesn't always work. It falls flat at every turn as the trio's acting inexperience shows in every frame, their wooden line delivery being unintentionally amusing at most times.

The three lifelong friends exhibit nearly no charisma through the lens and their monotone, staccato delivery of clunky, jarring dialogue robs Eastwood's film of spontaneity, naturalism or humour.

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