First and foremost, these boys are hero. Nothing I say in the following post should diminish that in any way. Okay yeah, so it’s a little hard to take Alek seriously after watching him on DWTS, but still, heroes.
The 15:17 to Paris is the true story about the three American boys who thwarted a potential terrorist attack on a train to Paris. We get a look at the boys growing up, joining the military (two of the three did), and their European vacation that took an unexpected turn. Sounds like a rather nice tribute to some homegrown heroes, yeah? Unfortunately, the quality of the film wasn’t anywhere near good enough to properly honor them.
Most people will point at the main problem being that director Clint Eastwood chose to cast the three real young men as themselves. None of them have any acting experience, it’s (somewhat painfully) obvious. I get the desire behind this sort of experiment in authenticity, and while there was some added emotional impact at seeing them relive their story, a lot of it proved to be a distraction. However, this is not the tragic flaw of the film.
The tragic flaw of the film is the screenplay. It’s atrocious. To start, the dialog is just bad (made even worse when delivered by amateurs). But the problems go deeper than that. The story is unfocused and brings up lots of points and events that aren’t relevant to anything. The ones that are relevant are way too obvious. It was clearly an attempt to be profound (oh look how it all comes full circle) but was just so cheesy. Then there were bits that checked both boxes of bad like the guys wistfully looking over a balcony “You ever feel like life is pushing us towards some greater purpose?”. Oh and how many times did the guys hafta debate whether or not they’d go to Paris. We all know they’re going to Paris, it’s in the name of the freaking movie.
Now there was a small window of time where things worked: the scenes on the train. Granted, that’s what people paid admission for so it had dang well better work, and thankfully it did. It was suspenseful and really something incredible to watch these guys recreate their moments of triumph and humanity. I understand the intent to not make this an action movie and to give them more depth and respect in looking at their past, but in this case, I think avoiding the main event did them a disservice. It’s just so frustrating because these boys deserve so much better than they got in this movie.
The 15:17 to Paris – \m/ \m/