‘The 15:17 to Paris:’ More of a Documentary Than an Action Film

By Diego Coya, Staff Writer

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the 1517 paris poster.jpg
“The 15:17 to Paris,” directed by Clint Eastwood, hit theaters on Feb. 9.
Photo courtesy of IMDb

Former actor Clint Eastwood is a true visionary in the film industry as he is well known for his non-fictional films like “Sully” and “American Sniper.” To my disappointment, “The 15:17 to Paris” is a huge misstep for Eastwood because it did not serve its purpose as an action flick. The film falls more along the lines of a documentary.

“The 15:17 to Paris” focuses on three American soldiers who prevented a terrorist attack in Paris on Aug. 21, 2015. It shows the lives of these men prior to the day of the attack by showcasing their childhoods and military training. The viewer ultimately gets to see who these three men were and how they came across the situation.

Anytime Eastwood is directing a film, I am automatically interested to see it because he is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history. He is well-known as both a lead actor and a film director.

What I found impressive about this film was that the three soldiers that stopped the attack were playing themselves in the film. Another aspect of the film that interested me was the subject matter. I remember hearing the story on the news and it shocked me.

One thing is for sure, a film directed by Eastwood should have been way better. Clocking in at approximately 90 minutes, the film honestly feels like it is two hours long. There are moments where the pacing gets sluggish, and nothing really happens for the majority of the film. The best part about “The 15:17 to Paris” is the last 15 minutes. They are intense, suspenseful and really well done. Despite the fact that I knew how things played out, I was still on the edge of my seat.

I think it is admirable that Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos played themselves in the film. By no means am I condemning or criticizing what they did that day; I am solely talking about the execution of the film itself. They are not actors, so I cannot blame them for not having great performances. There are talented people in the cast such as Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer, Thomas Lennon and Tony Hale. However, none of them stand out. I do not necessarily blame them. The blame goes to the biggest fault with the film, which is the screenplay.

The writing is a mess to say the least. We first focus on the main characters when they are in elementary school, but there is nothing interesting that happens. Another flaw with the script is the dialogue. The first scene of the film involves a teacher speaking with two parents in the film about her concern for the kids academic progress in school. At times like this, the dialogue was cringe worthy.

I felt like the way the characters were written was incredibly bland. While there are some sequences that were intriguing, such as some of the training and a scene where a false alarm goes off, there are some scenes that moved at a snail’s pace. For example, there is a long segment where two of the soldiers are in Italy hanging out with a woman they had met, and it goes on for what seems like an eternity.

Overall, I left disappointed considering it is a film by Eastwood. Generally speaking, his films are praised by both critics and audiences alike. I am sure this will not be on my worst of the year list, but I truly wish it turned out better.

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