The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Drama | History | Thriller
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Cast: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone


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 film 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 15:17 to Paris is Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort. It’s also my latest review. In truth, I liked the pic’s title. As for “Paris” itself, well it’s meh when it could have been so much greater. I need more exuberance with stuff that possesses historical insight.

    Released in February to almost minimal, media hype, “Paris” rounds out to a mere ninety-four minutes. Clint is legendary for doing one-time takes and having his films finish rather quickly. That might have got the best of him because The 15:17 to Paris feels unfinished and more akin to a snippet of an Eastwood film rather than a full cinematic entity. Clint was able to get away with a shortened running time via 2016’s Sully. In regards to The 15:17 to Paris, the results are instead mixed.

    Now to be honest, I’ve always been a fan of Eastwood’s style of directing. He may be a meat and potatoes filmmaker but that’s OK. He knows where to put the camera, his storytelling sensibilities are always intact, and his flicks have a streamlined numbness to them which I like. “Paris” possesses these things but lacks professional troupers in the leads and a tightened script (which Clint had no part in writing). The movie renders itself climatically mute and in a sense, underwhelming. The 15:17 to Paris starts out strong, meanders in the 2nd act, and then before you know it, it’s over. Next to something like Mystic River or American Sniper, this is patchwork fodder by the man they call “Dirty” Harry.

    Distributed by Warner Bros. and told chronologically with interrupting clips of a final, confrontational sequence, “Paris” tells the true account of three friends preventing terrorist activity on a train bound for Paris, France. The three friends in question, are Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. These are the actual guys mind you and they play themselves in The 15:17 to Paris. Eastwood thinks he’s doing something innovative here but it backfires. Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos aren’t trained actors and it shows. Most of their scenes are full of improvisation and ad-libbed nuances. What’s worse is that they fail to fully emote and show deadening emotion when needed.

    In conclusion, “Paris” while not recommendable, still kinda shows that Clint Eastwood has a sense of craft and cadence in his work. With whatever project he does next, he needs to better his faulty decisions and maybe take his time more. Rating: 2 stars.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog:

  • After Sully Eastwood turns to another exemplary American heroism, the three Americans who subdued a terrorist on a train to Paris.
    For a train drama remarkably little happens on the train. The Orient Express this isn’t. Eastwood rather spends the narrative on showing his three All-American lads growing up.
    They come together as mischievous schoolboys. Alek’s and Anthony’s mothers reject the school’s recommendation of Ritalin to rein them in. Their adult heroism is thus clearly rooted in their maverick spirits from the get-go. This is the myth of American individualism. The outlaw spirit blossoms into the mature freedom-fighter.
    The film takes one important liberty: it omits the French citizen who initiated the attack on the terrorist, then spurned the French government’s honour for fear of reprisal. Here Carson takes the lead. Eastwood’s motive is not to protect the French guy but to make his Americans the effective heroes.
    The film ends up a simple-minded exercise in patriotism. It avoids the moral dilemmas that deepened Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. Eastwood shows bis usual efficiency in directing, but the whole project seems a toss-off. There’s even a laziness in his casting the real Spencer, Alek and Anthony as themselves. Eastwood didn’t bother to develop complex characters. He lets the “actors” be themselves. As a result, the slick surface lacks depth.
    This film makes no attempt to move from the particulars of a history into the resonance proper to fiction. This is what happened once — good, impressive — but it carries no wider meaning. It certainly doesn’t show even just America as a whole.
    This unimaginative recreation of an event makes Eastwood seem to be working in a bubble. It’s naive enough to have been made in 1935. It shows no awareness of the moral complexity around Carson’s military assignment, nor about the divisive and destructive tensions in current America.
    Eastwood retells his story without thinking about anything. It’s a knee-jerk repetition of American exceptionalism with no acknowledgment of the nation’s dark troubled waters.
    The three actors play such clean, courteous, idealized men that they seem to have stopped off a Norman Rockwell cover. The story may be true but it in no way represents America today. Odd that a true story can be used so to avoid reality. Eastwood turns a true story with the actual heroes into a fairy tale.
    A longtime Republican himself, perhaps this is the only way Eastwood can say anything about the current situation: ignore it. Unfortunately, hiding from the nightmare doesn’t stop it.

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