Image: Spencer Stone as himself in The 15:17 To Paris © Property of Warner Bros [Source: IMDB]
Prestigious actor turned director Clint Eastwood brings this remarkable true story to the screen, the story of three friends who grew up together, were separated, then organising a vacation before two of them go off to war. It’s there in Paris, 2015, the three found themselves rising to the occasion showing bravery and honour in thwarting an attempted terrorist attack.
Director: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos 
Frankly, these three deserved better, what will be most prominent to any audience is the awkward acting, it’s clear these three are uncomfortable on camera. While the prospect of having the real heroes portray themselves is admirable, it’s an understatement that they are not actors and it shows. Dialogue sounds and is clunky and monotone with very little believability to it, so much so that you never see or buy into the three as close friends. Never getting a sense of their chemistry which hinders the movie further as its clincher moments depends on the audience being clued into their chemistry so that the emotional impact is greater.
Sadly this is not the case at all, the first act of the film goes by as a dull and unbearable attempt to show these three as kids to strengthen the bond of the characters in the eyes of the audience. What goes wrong here is that it goes by without any depth into them as people and the foundations of what they will become, this likely stems from the fact the movie is starring and was brought to Eastwood by the three real people – it prevents meaningful character investigation. However, for the most part, the three stars are passable as they are not trained in acting and much of the blame falls to Eastwood for his nonchalant directing style, which is laughably apparent during The 15:17 To Paris. Gone is any kind of tense drama, political statements or just plainly great action, Eastwood lets this film play out the events of the three on holiday, this alone is not exactly a terrible decision if more happened and had Eastwood took command of the shots more we might have got a sequence more emotionally connecting.
What goes wrong here is the coasting nothingness, while this sequence would have worked fine in a documentary style; in Eastwood’s static, overproduced Hollywood feature it stands as a tremendously deadpan useless sequence, the editing of the climax of the film into these moments furthers the utter boredom of these scenes and makes it evident this plot has been stretched thin and given so little attention that it is nothing more than an amateur video gallery from their vacation. The climax of the film showing much the same, lifeless and anticlimactic with cinematography giving the sequence a pedestrian feel tears away all cinematic quality of this feature which is the real issue with this, none of it screams cinema and instead cries ‘straight to tv movie’.
Plain and simply The 15:17 To Paris is a film that Eastwood gave very little care for, perhaps something of an experiment for him or the likelihood that it is a cash grab on a topical story. The three men starring in this story who showed true courage deserved a proper more engaged telling; Eastwood’s nonchalant directing makes for an utterly tiring, deadpan and slump of a cry for his own retirement.