This review is late. It’s late because I didn’t want to see this movie. I didn’t want to see this movie because I was weary of seeing a story about American heroism that I knew would suck. I knew it would suck because it’s an event that can only extend to a cinematic runtime of 20 minutes, at best.
For those of you who don’t know (If you do, you can skip this paragraph), The 15:17 to Paris is a movie about a terror attack in Europe that is thwarted by three young American men, two of them in the military. This attack happened not even three years ago, and the three young men who actually stopped the terror attack are playing themselves. It is also directed by Clint Eastwood.
So right then and there, we have a very interesting premise: A story of American heroism with the actual heroes themselves reprising their roles.
However, there are two very major problems with this movie:
- They gave the screenplay to a writer that has never written a movie script before.
- This event is only about 20 minutes of screen time, and there’s almost nothing else this film can talk about.
Naturally, because there is nothing they could talk about, they decide to make the rest of the movie about the heroes’s childhoods… and boy oh boy was the writing and directing of the scenes leading up to the actual terror attack ever a chore to watch.
Every single line of dialogue is exhaustingly inorganic. Every single word that comes out of a character’s mouth is awkwardly forcing some sort of “key point” the movie wants you to know leading up to the events. The script is so bafflingly on-the-nose about every single agenda point that I believe I visibly cringed a half-dozen times before the movie was even thirty minutes in.
They have extremely awkward moments like the beginning, when the three heroes are driving in a car, and then a voiceover comes from Anthony Sadler (for context, I must mention that Sadler is the only black guy of the three), and he says something like, “My name’s Anthony, and these are my two best friends… now you’re probably wondering what’s a black guy like me doing with these two white guys?”
HOOOOOOO BOY. No, actually I wasn’t wondering that at all, but thanks for that.
(It wouldn’t hurt to mention that this narration NEVER happens again, so I must ask what was the point of it in the first place?)
There’s a scene where the boys’ mothers are talking to one of the teachers about the boys’ misbehavior, and the teacher suggests ADD medication, and one of the mothers just randomly blurts out, “MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN YOUR PILLS.”
The script seems significantly less interested in telling a story than it does making sure it hits certain plot points that give the terrorist attack more meaning.
The acting is atrocious. And honestly, I was afraid that the main cause of the bad acting would be from the three heroes because they’ve never acted before. However, everyone else in the film was actually worse than them. They had good actors like Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer, both of which were visibly having a hard time with the godawful dialogue they were handed. And the child actors… good lord the child actors. They were awful. One of them was Bryce Gheisar, who was the bully in a great film called Wonder. And I thought Gheisar was really good in Wonder. He’s not good in this movie, and neither is anyone else.
And quite honestly, because I’ve seen many of these actors do well in other roles, it forces me to put the blame exclusively on writer Dorothy Blyskal and director Clint Eastwood.
I think Eastwood, or maybe the people editing this, knew that it was crap because the film periodically cuts to scenes of the attack… as if to say, “Yes, we know this movie sucks, but just wait until the action.”
And the action is the best part of the film. The attack is well choreographed and it is extremely tense and highlights exactly why these men, and specifically Spencer Stone, were the right people to stop this terror attack.
And it was right there that I realized that this movie tries to emphasize that all of Stone’s personal failures, successes, and general life occurrences have prepared him for not only stopping the terrorist, but saving a man who got shot by the terrorist before he was neutralized.
It’s honestly a great story about faith, providence, and valor… and it is farted upon by every single element leading up to it.
By the bad acting and directing…
By the poor editing and choreographing…
By the wretched soundtrack…
And most of all, by the horrendous script.
Now, despite the poor quality, I think “The 15:17 to Paris” has it’s audience; if you’re a Christian and/or you love the military, then all of the bad stuff I mentioned either won’t bother you, or at the very least, probably won’t kill the experience for you.
However, I am both a Christian and I love the military… but as a reviewer, I’m not going to judge a movie solely on its gimmick or message, things I consider to be extremely subjective. I’m also not going to judge a movie on whether or not it has “good intentions” (honestly what movie doesn’t try to have “good intentions”?). Although those things may factor into the grade, I am significantly more interested on presentation…
…and I’m just going to be honest with you guys: The vast majority of the presentation for The 15:17 to Paris is absolute shit.