Clint Eastwood is a director with quite the knack for tackling real-life stories of heroics (the likes of Gran Torino, American Sniper, Sully) and for his latest, The 15:17 to Paris, he has the actual heroes themselves starring front and centre.

Based on the train attack of 2005, three friends, out touring Europe on holiday, find their bravery and strength put to the test when they are confronted by an AK-47 wielding terrorist wanting to hijack the train. Eastwood has the real heroes, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos, starring as themselves and whilst I admire their bravery in the moment, the event itself is nothing more than just that: "a moment". And given the fact that this incident doesn't actually occur until about 80-odd minutes in (in a film only 94 minutes long, no less), it's hard to think that - as wonderful as the heroism displayed that day was - an entire film can be dedicated to telling this story. It can't. It shouldn't. Eastwood's latest shows that not every real-life act of heroism needs a cinematic retelling; this one certainly didn't - this film is as unnecessary and insufferable a disaster as they come.
The 15:17 to Paris opts to spend most of its time peering into the lives of these men, from childhood leading to the train attack, slowly bleeding the events of 2005 with their backstory but it's just boring. The film is awfully contrived in its writing; the dialogue is horribly stilted and cringe-worthy at times and the characters come off as just so dull and one-dimensional. We see their friendship and follow their lives later but it's all so frustratingly convoluted in the way it's handled - one thing happens one moment then it's irrelevant the next and the film makes decisions that lead to nothing (one scene the friends are separated and the film makes a big deal of it but the next, we skip ahead a decade or so and they're together and it's dismissed). It's awfully sprawling, ebbing around with no seamless flow or purpose; it's inconsequential with nothing notable happening nor adding anything to the story or characters. It's just a tedious affair that has a plodding narrative to suffer through until the actual event.

But even the event itself is poorly helmed too; by the time it arrives, we are checked out and just wanting to leave. It's awfully shot and rushed, with an overuse of shaky cam. It just happens then it's over. Clint Eastwood's direction here feels lousy and lazy; this is a paycheck film - it exists for no other reason other than everyone involved wanting to make some money. Whilst the move to have the real heroes play themselves is admirable in its intention, it's awful in its execution; the acting is horrible. The problem with having real people star as themselves is that they are untrained - they don't know to act the way any A-lister does. It makes the performances flat and dull. Honestly, nothing about The 15:17 to Paris works. This is a film that is 90 minutes too long; it's one of the worst written films I've seen in some time and it's a snooze-fest. Nothing happens and it is painfully broken and nonsensical in its execution; it is one of the most frustrating and boring films I have seen in some time. It's plodding and boring, non-acted, lazily directed, unnecessary. The 15:17 to Paris is a shockingly bad film. Nothing works. Don't waste your time.


The 15:17 to Paris is a shockingly awful mess.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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