Yes, I know I was supposed to review Winchester, but the film had done so poor with the critics on its opening week that there were virtually no screenings in Liverpool, I found one screening at 11.00pm for 2 days at the weekend. I have no ride home, no thanks. I enjoy doing this but I am not willing to pay for a taxi at a cost of £50.00 at 1.00am.
So, I decided to pick the first film I could see on the board that qualified. There wasn’t 50 Shades Freed!!! I’ve managed to maintain this idea that I wasn’t going to review any of the 50 Shades movies, and I have managed to stick to that!
Now I knew virtually nothing about this film, I have only just found out about its existence. The 15:17 to Paris is an extraordinary true story about three guys that were travelling across Europe from America, (technically, there are about four or five of them involved in the big part of the story, but they don’t get much of a mention in this film, which is why I have left them out). The boarded a train from Amsterdam to Paris. At the same time, they stopped a lone gunman who started an attack on the train and they managed to subdue him long enough for the authorities to deal with it.
Now it is a hell of a story of true heroism, and who took on the story of true American heroes, well, Clint Eastwood of course because he hasn’t done enough of those films lately. Seriously, the guy is now three for three with American Sniper and the previously reviewed Sully. Seriously, Clint please do a different film!! I have talked a lot about Clint Eastwood’s directing style in my Sully review, so if you want to know my thoughts about him as a director in bigger detail, go and read that review. In short, I think he is a decent director, but he cannot avoid keeping his politics out of his films and I think it is often to the films detriment, which was the case in Sully and especially in American Sniper, which other directors who has seemed interested in the project seemed to have more interesting ways to go with the film. Yes, in case you can’t tell, I am not much of a fan of the film American Sniper.
The 15:17 to Paris was going to be just a normal biopic, however, it’s different in the fact that this one had the original three guys who were involved in it playing themselves. Something that I though was a bit of a weird decision. You often will hire people to play these roles, but when I decided to pick this up, after doing my brief research of it, I was interested to see where Clint would go with this. Because of the way this film is structured and the fact that most of what I have talked about in this opening segment, I am not going to go into this film with the same structure that I normally review my films with. Since I don’t believe that it would serve the purpose and the way I want to talk about this film is slightly different.
Off the bat, there is a lot to talk discuss about this film. Clint, on the one hand does succeed on a lot of levels. The scenes on the train are actually very good. They are very well handled, feel very real and obviously come from not just the consultation with the guys, but their own personal experience. The sets are decent and well designed as well, when sets are actually used, I will get into that in more detail later. The fact of the matter is though, the title is a little misleading, since, well, it’s not really about the train ride. The train ride itself only takes up about ten minutes at the end of the film, at most. You know how many people say that a lot of films based on true stories twist the events too much and are not true to life, it’s all lies, lies, lies, it didn’t happen like this, it didn’t happen like that. They often have to do that to make a decent story structure, some of that embellishment is alright. I always think it is ok as long as they stick within the boundaries of what happened and often they fix stories which were interesting enough to actually warrant making slight embellishments. For example, I really enjoyed the film The Disaster Artist, but the reason that worked as a biopic was because there was a decent story with various events that happened along the way. It wasn’t just the fact that they were filming the room. The problem with this story is that there is not too much to it.
The story can really be discussed in three or four stages. There was, when they were kids, about 11-14, which is kind of an interesting part and we see a lot about them and the child actors they get do a decent job in their roles. We see them becoming friends, their back stories and the trouble they get into at school. It’s also where a lot of the more known actors appear, though, granted, most of them are known for being on American Television. Then we get into the various military training for the two, mainly Spencer and Alek, the latter of which did actually serve in Afghanistan. Then we are basically in their holiday. Yes, that is basically it, not much actually happens, they are just on holiday, it’s like watching someone’s holiday video on YouTube. Hell, I have seen holiday videos on YouTube more interesting. I could have watched several Vlogs from Fun for Louis and I would have had a more interesting time. Seriously though, check out his Vlog, it’s amazingly more fun than you would expect. I have actually become addicted to watching it.
By the time we get to the actual incident, I was bored out of my skull! Because it is so authentic to life, there is not enough time to depict the incident and as a result the film is padded to hell. This film either needed to change its focus and make certain embellishments or was just outright a bad idea from the start. I seriously can’t recall a film I have seen in recent memory that was so padded with unnecessary rubbish! Half of this film is pure padding. They go to Venice, nothing happens! Next, they are in Germany, nothing happens! Amsterdam, they go for a night out. I was getting my hopes up when they meet a fellow traveller in Venice, but nothing happens there! They just hang out with her for a while. Well, it’s just reliving the holiday. Granted, they did get the rights to film in many cases in the actual locations, which meant the studio must have hated the amount of travel expenses that added up. Thanks to this film I now know the Trevi fountain has reopened, which means I need to go back to Rome at some point. But I can’t tell you how bored I was watching this film.
It’s an extraordinary story, but I think I would have been better invested if I had seen this as a documentary, which was what Mark Commode suggested. Seeing a story like this does mean that more people will see this and take more from it and as we learn about the story, for that it is fine. But for the love of god this film is so droll.
As I mentioned, it does have its highlights. The kids acting is alright and the genuine guys give good performances, but then again, they are playing themselves so it’s not like they have to stretch themselves. The blame of this film does not lie with them. The blame really lies with whoever set up this film’s structure, which is a fundamental problem.
Not to mention this film feels a lot longer than it actually is. The film comes in at one hour thirty-five minutes, but it feels like it goes on for about two hours, and not in a good way. There is also not much to talk about what happened after the event, which I am very surprised about. Especially considering that the film opens up a ton of plot points about the guys which I assumed were going to be followed up on. For example, Spencer moving between different aspects of the Army who he is training for. Did Alek go back Afghanistan. What is going on with Anthony. I genuinely don’t know what happened after the events. Now granted, what these guys did was amazing, he had so many rounds on him it was estimated that he could have probably killed everyone on the train and it would have been a disaster, luckily only one guy was shot and he did manage to pull through. By the time we get to the incident, it’s too little too late.
The other thing I will say about this film is that I did enjoy cinematography. This is a very well shot film and I could believe I was watching these guy’s home movie, but I would rather not have watched these guys home movie, I would want to watch an actual movie. That’s about it, that’s all I have got about this film, I don’t have anything else to say.
The 15:17 to Paris is a decent attempt at an idea for a film but it is fundamentally flawed from the start. This film’s structure leads it to being a boring mess that doesn’t amount to much. The film starts out alright and has a decent ending, but by the time we actually get there, it’s too little, too late, because it’s droll middle portion that goes absolutely nowhere, which is ironic considering it’s about travelling across Europe. I commend Clint Eastwood’s idea with this film, but it needed a better structure and it needed another re-write.
Well, no question about what is coming up next week, I am getting away from Clint Eastwood and I am going back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, I am reviewing the first Superhero movie to be fronted by a black Superhero, Black Panther.
Thank a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and I am surprised I didn’t mention anything about taking the train to work today after seeing this film!!
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