‘The 15:17 to Paris’ tells story well despite dragging at times
The story of the 2015 Thalys train attack is brought to life by the three men who experienced it in Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris.”
The film stars real-life heroes Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos as they recreate the event that would change their lives forever. Eastwood casted the three heroes to offer a more authentic biographical film to make it as accurate as possible. The result manages to work in some instances while it comes up short in others.
The film tells the story of these three individuals from when they were children attending a Christian school up to that moment on that train going from Amsterdam to Paris. Off the bat, it tells you that they were just like any other regular boys, having fun and bonding through stories of war. Most of the focus is on Stone’s journey from him wanting to join the Air Force as a para-rescuer, but he doesn’t qualify because of his poor depth perception and being transferred to multiple branches, coming up short. All this plays a part in the last act of the film, which is the title of the film and what most people came to see.
Eastwood’s choice to use Skarlatos, Sadler and Stone in the film as opposed to professional actors worked. For not having professional acting experience, these three manage to recreate their past moments genuinely and make each scene feel authentic. However, it does lead to the main flaw of the film, which is the writing.
Learning about their background was interesting, but there are moments where the film drags and this becomes apparent towards the ending. It tries to tell you what these men were up to leading up to them boarding the train, but each scene feels like padding and will have audiences wondering when it will get to the attack.
The saving grace of the film was the last 10-15 minutes, which is them stopping the terrorist attack on the train. It shows the courage these men had to stop a terrorist and risking their lives to save many people. What these men did was truly heroic and Eastwood does a great job of showing the bravery of these three in a moment that could have killed them and caused a national tragedy.
Although it’s not entirely perfect with its writing and some dragging scenes, “The 15:17 to Paris” is worth checking out because of the story behind these three men who saved the lives of many on that train.