REVIEW: ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ tells a heroic story that would be better told elsewhere

15:17 Paris

15:17 Paris

Alex Novak

Heroism can occur at any time and place, but not in this movie.

“The 15:17 to Paris”’ tells the inspiring true story of three friends — Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos — who stopped the 2015 Thalys train attack on a trip to Paris. Using their military training, they saved hundreds of lives at the most unexpected time.

Following their journey in Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial entry, the trio tells their life stories as they enjoy a weeklong trip through Europe.

After visiting places like Italy and Germany, they conclude their trip in Paris despite being somewhat reluctant to do so.

Now with that being said — and with their intentions in the best place — the movie itself still contains quite a few holes in its tribute that causes it to fall short of aspiration.

The film spends far too much time in its exposition to the point that nearly all of the film feels like it. While there are definitely hints as to what the story is building itself up to when you look back on it, it fails to convey that at all as it plays, leaving the viewer muddled in confusion.

The story insists on going all the way back to the trio’s childhood where they first met and became friends. It then spends nearly a third of its run time setting this as its foundation — one that many directors would choose to clear up in a line or two.

There is an old storytelling adage that suggests one to start as close to the end as possible to make sure they include only what is necessary to tell it effectively. In the case of this film, following this rule would be great in making the film more focused on the actual actions it is honoring.

Some of these shortcomings may be due to the fact this story — while important and a great example of heroism — does have a limited capacity for being portrayed on the big screen.

The actual terrorist attack attempt lasted only two or three minutes. Trying to make a film focused solely on the train attack is a challenge.

It’s almost hard to believe that for a film with a 90-minute runtime it has so many scenes that are simply unnecessary, especially when it is labeled as a fast-paced thriller.

With the many loose ends that it fails to tie up in its overarching story, as well as in the subplots of their respective journeys to the conclusion, it seems as if this incredible story would be better served as a documentary.

It is great to see a tribute to these heroic acts, how they stopped the terrorist and saved hundreds of lives by preventing a tragedy from happening.

However, this movie cannot break away from its limited adaption and underwhelming script without dragging the viewer to an unsatisfying end.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].