Not one to shy away from using fake babies on a movie set or fostering adlibs from his film’s stars, Eastwood boldly takes his biggest directorial gamble to date in “The 15:17 to Paris” — casting the three twentysomething heroes as themselves.
Patrick King, REEL BRIEF
Few directors can match Clint Eastwood’s penchant for taking terrifying, split-second events and expanding them into full-length feature films. No Eastwood movie summation better or more fascinating than last year’s dramatic depiction of the true-life 2009 emergency landing in the Hudson River by Tom Hanks in “Sully”. That harrowing airline story’s 208 seconds encapsulating the big-screen for a full 96 minutes.
Now pressed with another headline-grabbing narrative to tell, the iconic filmmaker is challenged like he’s never been before: Take a terrorist incident aboard a Paris-bound train–that might have lasted two minutes–and stretch it into a watchable 94-minutes of film. Oh, and to complicate matters worse…the whole world already knows how this story ends. A very tall order indeed, even for one of Hollywood’s best.
“The 15:17 to Paris” denotes the childhood friendship of three Californians, brought together through repeated trips to the principal’s office, who find themselves at the epicenter of a madman’s attempt to kill hundreds of innocent train passengers back in 2015. The trio’s courage and heroism attesting to the post-September 11 playbook to do something (anything!) to thwart a terrorist’s attack instantly. Shock, evil, and martyrdom met with quickness, surprise, and resolve.
The film gallantly illustrates the bond that builds between the three Americans and how one, then-U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, believes fate has placed him on that Amsterdam to Paris trek. The culmination of his life spent preparing for just that moment where he goes from being the hunted to the hunter.
Obviously, the most chilling part of “The 15:17 to Paris” is the film’s dramatic final act. To witness the gratitude of France towards these brave Americans and others, champions the heartfelt patriotism that Eastwood always exudes in his films. Not one to shy away from using fake babies on a movie set or fostering adlibs from his film’s stars, Eastwood boldly takes his biggest directorial gamble to date in “The 15:17 to Paris” — casting the three twentysomething heroes as themselves.
Eastwood’s daring casting of the real-life participants is both captivating and distracting. The film’s script watered down to meet the first-time acting chops of these novice movie stars. Even Jenna Fischer, best known for her Pam Beesly role on the NBC sitcom “The Office”, brings a timid, underachieving performance. But none of that should matter…or the drawn-out storytelling by Eastwood. “The 15:17 to Paris” is about more than just the simple, ordinary lives it highlights. It’s about the extraordinary acts of so few, who instantly decide to do something when others don’t.
Not bad for three troublemakers back in their school days.
“The 15:17 to Paris” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 94 minutes.
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