The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The 15:17 to Paris</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) As a director, Clint Eastwood is well-known for a quick and efficient shooting style: He goes fast, doesn’t overthink the details and is often satisfied with one or two takes. This works well when dealing with good actors (including Eastwood himself), but the limits of his approach clearly show when dealing with non-professional actors such as in The 15:17 to Paris. It must have been a good idea at the time: Since the point was to make a movie about the three American who thwarted a terrorist attack on a European train in 2015, and the three young heroes of the story were still very much alive and willing, why not cast them in their own roles? As it turns out, there is a reason why we have professional actors, and the limits of their experience in portraying themselves quickly become apparent throughout the course of the film. Not that this is the biggest issue. The 15:17 to Paris, having to fill 90 minutes out of a relatively short incident involving a trio of wholesome young Americans, has to fill its running time somehow, and it’s not going to do that by, say, exploring the perspective of the terrorist. No, The 15:17 to Paris prefers to pad its running time with an awkward denunciation of secularism and then a travelogue as it follows our intrepid heroes throughout the sightseeing trip that precedes the dramatic events at the end of the movie. That’s right: Eastwood “directing” three young guys as they backpack through Europe, and a wasted Judy Greer as a mother who puts school officials in their place. The best part of the film, fortunately, comes at the end, when it’s time to deliver what audiences have come to see: a few tense minutes facing a terrorist and saving a victim. That final act of The 15:17 to Paris is much better … but it’s too bad we have to struggle through the hour that comes before. Eastwood gets terribly sloppy here, and it severely harms the point of the film.

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