The 15:17 to Paris
1 Hour 34 Minutes, PG-13 for gun and knife violence.
Fair Value Rating of The 15:17 to Paris: $2.00. It’s a solid punt as a Redbox rental, an excellent compromise choice if you’re watching a film with family or people you don’t know well. Impeccable but unessential, pleasing but forgettable.
Is this film worth my time? Not particularly, but it’s a paean- a tribute to the heroism of three American tourists who intervened in the 2015 Thaly’s train terrorist attack, saving many lives. As is the American Way, the reward is getting to star as yourself in the movie about the events of your life.
Who is this film perfect for? Red state ‘Muricans looking for a less action-packed story of everyday heroes. Fans of cinema verite, or people seeking a relaxing, unengaging film.
Who will not like this film? Much like Eastwood’s other recent outings (Sully, Jersey Boys), The 15:17 to Paris is a generic and workmanlike affair. Eastwood’s immersion in the account gives ample authenticity, but the film is lacking in any striking shots or scenes. Its both a tribute of professionalism and a criticism that it feels like any director could have made this film.
What is the summary of this film’s concept? The lives of three American misfits who tour Europe and end up averting an act of terrorism.
Bro-force: The film is largely a biography of Spencer Stone, who feels like a pretty familiar person to me. I’ve gone to high school and college with guys like him. Decent and simple, disciplined but not brilliant, Spencer and his friends go from being hyperactive and troubled kids to being servicemen in the US military. He doesn’t make the cut for Air Force para-rescue, but he doesn’t drop out of the Air Force either. The film has four acts: childhood, the military, the fateful tour of Europe, and finally, the dramatic confrontation on the train. It’s a straightforward narrative.
How does this film compare to others like it? The strong biographical focus of Dorothy Blyskal’s screen adaptation of the book dispels any attempt to build tension. By flashing to the supreme dramatic moment, the audience is left wholly without suspense or excitement.
What works in this film? Stunt casting the actual Anthony Stadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone as themselves gives the main characters an easy natural camaraderie. I was reminded of Richard Linklater’s films- there’s a great amount of easygoing, natural conversation in this film. If you’re looking for a naturalistic film, you’ll find The 25:17 a strong and sober contrast to the bombast and spectacle of Hollywood.
What fails in this film? The problem with an adherence to verity is that life is largely lacking in catharsis and revelation. Three very normal average guys went to tour Europe, acted extra-ordinarily in a crisis, and are rewarded for their behavior.