The 15:17 to Paris

The movie joining the review train today is The 15:17 to Paris.  This is a movie about an event in 2015 which was almost a tragedy. It’s the story of 3 Americans traveling through Europe who stopped a man from shooting up a train bound for Paris. Had they not been on board, the result would have been countless deaths.

This event, however, only lasted a short while and would have been hard to make an entire movie about, so Clint Eastwood added bits and pieces from our main 3 characters’ earlier lives, leading us on a journey from when they all met, to when two of them joined different branches of the military, to the Europe trip, and then eventually the big climatic scene.

To begin the critique, this movie is a good-intentioned film with a cool concept behind it which included the idea of casting the actual heroes to play themselves. The coolness factor of that idea ends right there, however, as their acting ability leaves much to be desired.

The way the plot and characters are written feels pedestrian and isn’t helped by the poor acting we get from the main 3 characters. The writing and acting feels like a middle school play. The actors are visibly waiting for the other person to finish a line so that they can start theirs.

This makes the magic part of movie magic disappear because nothing feels real when the acting isn’t on point and it’s noticeable when an actor realizes it’s his/her line. Even many of the real actors in the movie feel like they’ve stooped down to the same level of acting the main characters have, including Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, and even Bryce Gheisar (who was great Julian in Wonder).

However, once we finally get to the train scenes and stick with them, being that there are flashes of it at random times in the movie, the acting does get better. I thought the train sequence and ending of the movie are directed, filmed, and acted to near perfection. I even found I enjoyed those moments. That little amount of time isn’t near enough to fully redeem the film, though.

The plot really dragged for most of the film and I kept checking my phone to see how much time had passed. Many of the moments that felt like a lot of time had passed were only a few minutes each in reality. A lot of scenes and moments feel awkward and it’s hard to pinpoint if that’s because of the directing, the writing, or the acting.

The movie cinematography and looks are basic. Nothing fancy goes on in terms of how it is shot, at least until the train scene and one other scene in a military classroom. For those moments it feels like an entirely different person was behind the camera as it feels like more thought was put into the movement and angles than was the rest of the movie.

As for how I feel while watching The 15:17 to Paris, I understand the movie is attempting to show the backstory of the characters in order to make me feel for them and create a more impactful climax in which I am actually scared for their survival. The backstory is done so poorly, however, that I end up just wanting the movie to get to the train attack so that I’d know the movie is almost done.

In the end, The 15:17 to Paris is a movie meant to pay homage to the heroes who thwarted the terrorist attack on a train on its way to Paris in 2015. It attempts to do so by including them as the actors who play themselves, but ends up almost embarrassing them with their acting skill. This, along with uncompelling backstory, detracts from the overall story.

Personally, because the train attack was actually done well, I feel like the concept of casting the real people would have worked better if instead of a feature film, this was a short film focused on just the train attack. Then, it could be put on YouTube or Vimeo and could go viral and looked at as genius if it were done that way, but they didn’t do this.

For those reasons, I will sadly have to Shred the Ticket.