Is Clint Eastwood Senile? The 15:17 to Paris Review

Praise Eteng '18

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“This was directed by Clint Eastwood?”

These were the first words my sister uttered as the credits of this film rolled. I can’t blame her. I was just as shocked and horrified at the fact that Clint Eastwood, the man who has directed masterpieces like Million Dollar Baby, Grand Torino, and Unforgiven, was behind this abomination of a film.

The 15:17 to Paris is about the lives of the three American heroes who stopped a terrorist attack on a train headed to Paris. The film stars the same Americans who stopped the terrorist attack, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler. When I heard that the trio were going to star in the movie, I was surprised. Usually films based on a true event have the people who were there involved in production, making sure things are accurate, and sometimes they even make little cameos, but they never actually star in the film because they aren’t professional actors. I thought it was an interesting concept; maybe the people involved in the event could give the raw emotion regular actors couldn’t. Plus, Clint Eastwood is a good director, so maybe this would work. However, I was wrong. Words can’t properly describe how bad this film is. The script is terrible—it was like they grabbed someone off the street and told them to write something up in an hour (this was the first screenplay by Dorothy Blyskal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case). The dialogue was boring and plain.  The fact that the actors didn’t have the skill to give a good performance made the film especially painful. The camera work was anywhere from amateur to I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing. The movie was either filmed in standard shot reverse shot or like a vlog and it just looked like it was done by a first-time director. The entire movie felt like filler that led up to the train attack, and that was average at best.

I don’t think a feature film was an appropriate format for this subject, because their lives (as depicted) were pretty boring. It wasn’t like Molly’s Game or the Wolf of Wall Street where a crazy scandal happened over a long period of time and had a lot going on. It was just a couple of normal dudes who were brave enough to stop a terrorist attack, but I think that’s what makes their story so amazing; it shows that anyone can be a hero regardless of who they are and where they come from. I just don’t think that this sin against God and man did their story justice. If it was up to me and we had to include the heroes involved, I’d have a 30 For 30-esque documentary showing the skills Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone gained during their time in the military and how they came into use during the train attack. That way, the boring aspects of the film like what they did when they were children and where they were before they decided to go to Paris would be left out. It would come off as military propaganda, but I don’t think Mr. Eastwood would have an issue with that.  

Obviously I think The 15:17 to Paris was garbage in every sense of the word. The script was atrocious, the camerawork was mediocre at best, and the acting was terrible. Not just from Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler, but also from Jenna Fischer, and Judy Greer. The two actresses should’ve given better performances. What those three Americans did was brave, but it’s a story that doesn’t translate well to the big screen. If I were to give it a score I’d say it was a 1/10. This was a complete misfire on all cylinders by Clint Eastwood. Save yourself the money and skip this one.

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