‘The 15:17 to Paris’ Review

15-17The 15:17 to Paris is an American biographical drama film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Dorothy Blyskal, based on the autobiography The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos. The film stars Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos as themselves along with P. J. Byrne, Thomas Lennon, Jaleel White, Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer in supporting roles. The story follows the lives of Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos from childhood up until their heroic efforts in the 2015 Thalys train attack. The 15:17 to Paris is a great story that should have been simple to translate to film. Clint Eastwood has proven that he can make a good full-length film from a short event, as he did with Sully. However, with The 15:17 to Paris, Eastwood decided to make the very interesting choice of casting Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos to play themselves. The issue with this is that none of those guys are trained actors and have no previous acting credits to their name. In a case such as this, it is up to the director to bring the talent out of them, which I believe was possible with this cast, but unfortunately, Eastwood did not make that happen. The acting throughout the film is pretty bad. Even from the trained actors such as Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer. Some of this has to do with the poorly written dialogue which doesn’t sound natural or believable. All of the acting isn’t terrible as P. J. Byrne, Thomas Lennon, and Jaleel White turn in some good performances. Their scenes in the film may be brief but are uniquely comedic. Much of the story is bland and unenthusiastic. The film feels like it has no emotion or no heart. When adapting from real life events it is normal for directors to embellish some events for the sake of theatricality, which is not done in this film. There are also has a few plot holes and bad editing. There are scenes that end abruptly with the actors delivering performances that do not help mask this. It is almost as if the film is more of a documentary than a retelling. There are unnecessary flash forwards that happen more than once making the story feel disjointed. In the end, there are also some scenes from the real awards ceremony spliced in that add characters who are not seen at any other point in the film. I give The 15:17 to Paris a Bad 4/10. This should have been an amazing book-to-film adaptation, yet the effort was squandered by poor acting and poor story choices.

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