The 15:17 to Paris

If you like United 93 and American Sniper, but less dark, then you will probably like this.

  • Screenplay by Dorothy Blyskal (Debut)
  • Directed by Clint Eastwood (Sully, American Sniper)
  • Starring Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone (playing themselves)
  • Budget of $30m

Initial Thoughts

Clint Eastwood takes another true story (American Sniper, Sully, Invictus) and puts his own now familiar style on it – simple, easy to follow and lets the event tell the story. For 15:17 to Paris however, this is not enough to turn this amazing story into an amazing film.

The ‘ccc’ review💭

On the 21st of August 2015, three American friends, a Brit and a Frenchman stopped a near certain tragedy by thwarting an armed terrorist and as a result potentially saving the lives of the 500 passengers on the 15:17 train bound for Paris. The film centres round the lives of three childhood friends, tracing their steps from school to their adventures traveling around Europe, cultivating to this unimaginable event.

The first thing I need to make clear is that the three leading actors ARE the actual Americans who were on that train that day. So you need to appreciate that they are not real actors. I need to applaud their efforts obviously, as well as commending their actions that fateful day.

As a result, it appears that Clint Eastwood does his best to keep the film as simple as possible for these debut actors, but in actual fact, the lack of depth leaves them very exposed: saying lines from a basic script and performing very simple scenes. The film becomes rather forgettable until the final 20 minutes when they re-enact the events on the 15:17 to Paris.

The film message is that it was fate that brought them to this moment in time. For Spencer Stone who struggled to find a purpose in life, he keeps the belief that life is pushing him towards something and how he always just wanted to help. A number of points in the film foreshadow this, flashes to the train interspersed during the film, although the editing felt very clunky, show how these moments in their lives impacted their decision making.

Ultimately you can always tell if a film is packed with high quality by asking yourself if the each scene is relevant to the story – you could probably cut a number of the scenes away and the key themes and messages would still stand.

Their achievements maybe could have been celebrated in a different way. Maybe the film would probably be better served as a quasi-cinematic-documentary with the three friends retracing their steps and explain how they were feeling in those moments rather than act them.

Final Thoughts 💭

Not the strongest true story film you will see this year. But given the subject matter however, this film gives out a rather positive message and restores your faith in humanity a little – people risking their own lives to save other strangers. The events on the 15:17 to Paris that day will never be forgotten….although the film might be.

Recommend if you want to see the real life heroes recreate their heroic efforts…but you have to wait till the final 20 minutes to see it. ✈️👏

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