- Movie Rating -

The 15:17 to Paris

| February 9, 2018

Did Clint Eastwood actually direct this mess?  That Clint Eastwood.  The man who has become as big a legend behind the camera as he did in front of it?  The man who directed The Outlaw Josey WalesBronco BillyUnforgivenThe Bridges of Madison CountyMillion Dollar babyMystic RiverChangling?  What happened here?  The 15:17 to Paris is amateur hour, like a limp docu-drama made for basic cable?

Certainly I could observe that Eastwood directing talent has coasted ever since the Iwo Jima duology, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, but The 15:17 to Paris is the bottom of the barrel.  It’s the worst movie he’s ever directed, a stultifying, half-baked recreation of the 2015 terrorist attack aboard the Paris-bound Thalys train #9364 that was thwarted by Airman First-Class Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler who, at that moment, were travelling together through Europe.

That attack itself is loaded with drama, but the event was relatively short and, in truth, not really enough to fill the run-time of a feature film.  The scenes aboard the train actually make up the last 15 minutes of the movie; the killer attacks, shoots some people, there’s panic and mayhem, and the three guys spring into action and take him down.  Then the French president gives them medals and declares them heroes.  The problem is that there is still an hour and half to fill.  There are a lot of options here.  Perhaps Eastwood could offer some biographical information on the three guys interwoven with the terrorist plotting the attack?  Perhaps we could get some psychological insight into a man who would get on a train with the gun and begin shooting people.  Perhaps Eastwood could have turned this into a documentary with the guys playing themselves in recreations.

Instead Eastwood decides to give us over an hour of biographical back story on three guys whose story isn’t all that interesting to begin with and whose destinies really don’t relate in any way to the incident in 2015 other than the fact that they were in the military.

Does their perceived ADD really relate to this in any way?  Does their misbehavior in elementary school inform what ultimately happens to them?  No.  Not at all.  It is used as a long, boring series of filler scenes that have nothing to do with anything.   Sure, their scenes in basic training are kind of interesting but did we really need a fully-loaded scene of the guys on vacation ordering gelato?  Did we need to know that Skarlatos prefers hazelnut?  Did we need scenes of the guys looking over St. Piazza San Marco and then heading off to their hotel?  Did we need 30 minutes of footage of their vacation in Germany? Italy?  Amsterdam?  Why does Eastwood spend precious time on this?

The earlier parts of the movie are not only pointless but represent some of the worst scenes that Eastwood has ever directed.  Any objections that anyone had over the Hilary Swank’s cartoonish welfare-leech family in Million Dollar Baby could be easily matched by Spencer and Alek’s hard-headed right-wing mothers played in embarrassing performances by Judy Greer and Amy Fisher who, in the film’s opening scene, verbally take down a teacher who dares to suggest that the boys may have ADD.  “My God is bigger than your statistics!” Greer shouts in a moment that is a particular low-point.

Greer and Fisher are in strange company.  novelty of the film, of course, is that Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler all play themselves, but the supporting roles for some reason are all played by TV comedians.  But why are they here?  Tom Lennon from “Reno 9-1-1”?   P.J. Bryne from “Big Little Lies”?  Irene White from “Modern Family”?  Tony Hale from “Arrested Development?”  What are they doing in this movie?  How is it that Jaleel White give the film’s best performance?  What universe is this?

Stone, Skarlatos and Spencer are Oh-kay as actors.  They often seem to be acting in a community play rather than a professionally made film.  As terrible as the movie is, and as middle-weight as their performances, the only good things that you can say about The 15:17 to Paris is that Eastwood clearly has affection for these guys.  There is some sincerity here but sincerity alone can’t carry a movie like this.  This movie is shockingly bad from one of our most beloved filmmakers.  Yes, he can direct action scene and the one that ends this movie is pretty good, but you feel as if you have to crawl over broken beer bottles to get there.  This is one of the worst movies of the year.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2018) View IMDB Filed in: Drama