The 15:17 to Paris is in theaters February 8th.
From a distance, The 15:17 to Paris has a great gimmick. For the first time in a movie based on a true story, the events on screen are portrayed using the real heroes, not professional actors. It’s a pretty daring move by veteran director Clint Eastwood. Still, after actually watching the film, you’ll wonder if that decision was worth the price of quality.
Yes, the blatantly obvious flaw with 15:17 is the terrible acting. I was able to excuse most of the cringey moments because the idea that these three men – Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler – who stopped a terrorist attack on train get to play themselves is cool, but unfortunately the dreadful delivery doesn’t end there. The first 30 minutes or so follow the trio’s childhood friendship, bad child actors included. To be fair, this movie is a perfect example of viewers left unable to distinguish between a poor outcome being the fault of lame acting, or a corny script. Eastwood really phoned it in on this one. How many days do you think he was actually on set?
Secondly, the film’s structure gives off the impression that it doesn’t know what story it wants to tell. After a stretched out coming of age tale, we follow Spencer and Anthony’s travels through Europe. Some exposition is necessary before the action we came for, but the friends’ trek seems to last forever. Luckily the runtime is a brisk hour and a half.
One strange thing I noticed was the number of comedic actors who had small roles in the opening half of this movie. If you can smuggle a bottle into your local theater, consider taking a shot every time one appears. (Jenna Fischer! Judy Greer! Tony Hale! Thomas Lennon!) This strategy will certainly help you enjoy The 15;17 to Paris more than I did.
I give The 15:17 to Paris a C.