After seeing Clint Eastwood's phenomenal films, such as "Unforgiven," "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," one would think this whole filmmaking thing wouldn't be too difficult for him anymore.
However, "The 15:17 to Paris" seems to be a disappointing head-scratcher. The film tells us the story of the three heroic men -- Alek, Spencer and Anthony -- who were responsible for stopping a gunman on board a train in France. Eastwood made the interesting decision for the three heroes to play themselves in an attempt to make the film more realistic. However, the film is anything but realistic.
The best way to describe this film is awkward. It begins by showing them as children in middle school doing ... middle-school things. The thing is, none of this has anything to do with the heroic event that viewers have to wait almost an hour and a half to see. From there, we observe their lives in the military, then sightseeing in Italy. The point here is that almost everything that occurs before the event is basically useless to the plot and is just flat-out boring. Eastwood was attempting to give us a "slice of life" type of scenario and to make us realize how the men's lives were before the attack. It does not achieve Eastwood's intentions and ends up being brutally mundane and aimless.
Yet still, the most obvious problem with "The 15:17 to Paris" is the acting. The three main leads are not actors, so their performances should not be blamed. However, if there were different choices, the film would have had a much higher chance of being an overall success. The awkwardness of the surrounding characters, including their mothers, their basketball coach, the military trainers and the hall monitor, all add to the distinctive forced nature of a film that is meant to give us a true sense of reality.
"The 15:17 to Paris" is a great way to waste your time. If you're in the mood for a boring and mindless trap, then have at it. However, every time there is a negative, there is some sort of positive. The film does try to be respectable about the event and the heroes who made the miracle happen. It puts them in a great light, but that light could have been a lot brighter.
All in all, this movie could be enjoyed by some who are just looking for a true story that gives a behind-the-scenes of real-life heroes.
Most embarrassing scene: The awkward voice-over in the opening
Redeeming scene: The tense moments on board the train
Rewatchability: 25% (only if you want to fast-forward to the train scene)