The 15:17 to Paris (2018) reviewed by Big Tuna
I was extremely wary of “The 15:17 to Paris”. It seemed like it had everything going against it in my eyes. It’s a story that seemed like it could have elements of hyper-patriotism. I hated Eastwood’s last military-themed film, “American Sniper”. It looked like it used the somewhat unique structure of “Sully” for a story that had even less substance. The main roles weren’t filled by actors, but the actual people who experienced the crisis. Still, despite all of these things that made me think I wouldn’t like the film, I decided to give it a chance.
15:17 to Paris doesn’t fall into the good Eastwood films
I liked one scene in the film because it actually had some true intensity (and it isn’t the train attack scene that you would expect). That equates to about two minutes out of the ninety-four minute-long film. Literally, everything else I have to say about the film is negative.
For one, the story is fundamentally flawed. It obviously has a strong pro-military agenda, and it uses this tragedy to draw people in before hitting the audience with the messaging. I really don’t understand why the people who performed this act of heroism in real life would agree to re-enact it. They must have been desperate for the paycheck, because it really doesn’t add anything to the film. They really cannot act. Almost every line of dialogue from them is delivered flatly as if they are reading from a cue card. It’s extremely jarring, but I may even be able to partially blame that on the script because the experienced actors who fill the smaller supporting roles are also a little flat. (P.S.: Really, Clint Eastwood? You put someone like Tony Hale in a single scene and don’t cast an experienced actor in the lead role? Street casting has worked before, but I don’t really think this qualifies as street casting because they were already involved in real life.) The script is absolutely horrid. I truly don’t understand how anyone would think that this has a sense of realism. If you really think that people would conveniently have at least 5 conversations about not going to France before something like this happens, you need to step outside or turn on the news and see the real world. Stuff like this happens out of nowhere, and these convenient conversations just felt insulting. The dialogue is clunky as a whole, though because it all feels like it was fabricated to push an agenda. Additionally, there is a twenty minute sequence in which the lead characters just go around Europe taking selfies, drinking, and ogling women. Was it really necessary? No, but they didn’t have enough of a story, so they had to get it over 90 minutes.
The technique of the film is equally awful. For one, the cinematography is shaky and rushed. It feels like Eastwood wanted to shoot this in as short of a period as possible. Maybe the lead performers were only available for a small period of time, or maybe he just wanted it to rush to theaters, but it was a bad decision. There are also some shots that show pure misogyny. There is one shot from the bottom of a staircase that did not need to be from that angle that simply looks up a woman’s skirt. It’s unnecessary and objectifies the woman on screen. The score was rather generic, but it wasn’t used enough to make a huge impact anyway.
As a whole, “The 15:17 to Paris” was worse than I could have thought it to be. Eastwood has proven himself to be a good director, even having directed an excellent Oscar-winning film in “Unforgiven”, but this film felt like a result of him trying to push a message rather as opposed to telling a story. It wasn’t even bad in a way that was laughable. It was nearly unbearable. This film earns the rating: “Avoid Like the Plague”.
This review was written by Big Tuna of the Big Tuna on Film Blog. If you like what you read, check out the site for more great reviews!