In the early evening of August 21, 2015, the world watched in stunned silence as the media reported a thwarted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris—an attempt prevented by three courageous young Americans traveling through Europe. “The 15:17 to Paris” follows the course of the friends’ lives, from the struggles of childhood through finding their footing in life, to the series of unlikely events leading up to the attack. Throughout the harrowing ordeal, their friendship never wavers, making it their greatest weapon and allowing them to save the lives of the more than 500 passengers on board. The heroic trio is comprised of Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, who play themselves in the film.
What We Thought:
First let me state that I firmly support the US military and currently have a nephew serving in the US Navy. My following thoughts/opinions are solely on the movie and are not the biased/typical point of view you expect from someone involved with movies. To me the men involved in the real life events are way better human beings than I’ll ever be. I also understand that they play themselves in the film and are not professional actors so any negativity towards the film isn’t about their performance. Any negativity is simply about the movie itself, the production and style.
Ok so what did I think of The 15:17 to Paris? I was completely disappointed in it. I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood and his films and did not like this movie. Somehow this incredible act of bravery was turned into mostly backstory and some party scenes. The film is around 90 minutes long and about 15 minutes take place on the actual train. The rest of the movie is filler and an introduction to these three men and their moms. The actual event was quick, I understand that, so taking that event and stretching it into 90 minutes is difficult, but I think Clint went the wrong way here.
It opens with the three men as kids in middle school. Spencer and Alek are sent to the principal’s office where they meet Anthony for the first time. They eventually get into trouble and go their separate ways but remain in touch. Two join the service and one does not or at least that how it seems. As previously stated the three men Spencer, Alek and Anthony play themselves in the movie and yes you can clearly tell they are not professional actors. But their performances are not even close to the worst issue with the movie. Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer play two of the moms.
As the audience sits and waits for the men to get on a train to Paris, we see Spencer go to the Air Force. We see Alek join the Army National Guard. We watch both men go through some training. Anthony is kept in touch through Skype and we don’t see much of him beyond that at that point. They all decide to go to Europe.
So we finally get to the train to Paris right? Nope. We get endless selfie stick scenes with Anthony and Spencer. We get Alek in Germany. It looks like one giant tourist video to see the sights of Europe. Some characters pop in, ultimately serve no purpose and the 3 men go about their business until about an hour fifteen into the movie.
Then we finally get on the train. The event takes 15 minutes or so and Clint cuts in some real footage of things that happened afterwards. I pretty much just spoiled The 15:17 to Paris and I should apologize for that, but the trailers are such false advertising someone had to tell you the truth. It’s not an action movie. It’s all backstory and filler and I’m completely disappointed in that. I feel bad for the 3 guys too. They aren’t actors and instead of just giving them some action to get through on the train, Clint gives them full story arcs and scenes with lots of dialogue to deliver. I expected something tense I’d walk out cheering with, I didn’t get any of that. It’s a big swing and a miss for me.