DEFCON 1 Reviews: ‘The 15:17 to Paris’

The Ups, the Downs, and the Sacrifice That Wasn’t Quite Worth It


Warner Bros.

Going into 15:17 to Paris, I had very little notion of what the actual story was. I knew it was based on a true story in which friends stopped a terrorist on a train, but I didn’t do any research on them so that I could enjoy the movie to its fullest extent. The thing about this film, however, was that even if I had gotten all of the information beforehand, it wouldn’t have been any more satisfying. Clint Eastwood’s choice to star the actual heroes of the event as actors was a poor one, and this flaw was exponentialized by the fact that the plot was paced haphazardly.

But, as always, let’s start with the good stuff.

The Cool Kids

My favorite scenes in the film were those that depicted the heroes as middle school kids. These provided the deepest, most satisfying exposition in the movie. Seeing each character as a young child and identifying with their struggles made them far more likable than they would have been as characters without this development (primarily because the characters were bland as adults).

Simply Sadler

Now, it may not technically count because he’s an actual actor, but Anthony Sadler’s performance in 15:17 was by far the best. He had an onscreen presence that was believable, and he acted his own role without making it look like he was acting. He essentially carried the movie’s humor on his back, which is not necessarily good considering the fact that the film attempts at humor quite a bit.

What You See Is What You Get

My favorite part of this movie was, by far, the cinematography. The camera angles were suspenseful and gave a strong feeling of foreshadowing throughout the movie. Lens flare was used at appropriate times (take notes J.J. Abrams), slow motion wasn’t overused like I thought it would be, and close-ups enhanced the suspense as much as they could.

15:17 to Paris was wrong in so many ways that this will, undoubtedly, be my shortest review so far. The film just didn’t have enough redeeming factors to make this review substantial, and that had me literally brainstorming as many good things as I could about it. Normally, I would segue into the negative portion of this review by putting things into perspective, but these flaws certainly speak for themselves.

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

This film’s dialogue was awful. Plain and simple. The lines were choppy and scripted. Having the issue of a script that is ‘functional’ at best is an enormous flaw when characters are acting things that they ACTUALLY SAID! Maybe the heroes of the train ride aren’t actors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t recall the conversations leading up to the event that literally changed their lives. This was a movie formed on exposition and suspense, meaning the foreshadowing and buildup should have been strengthened by the dialogue, not weakened by it.

It’s All in the Exposition

This film’s biggest flaw is its structure. The trailers depict it as an intense, two-hour long train situation full of suspense and ending in apprehension of a terrorist. Instead of this, we got an hour and forty-five minutes of exposition (literally starting from childhood) and a whole five minutes of actual action. The background was fine and dandy except for the fact that this wasn’t fiction; there was no character development necessary because they are REAL people. Knowing about the movie’s premise had viewers walking into the theater to see a hostage situation, not to watch three kids play with BB guns in the forest.

The Wrap-Up

There really isn’t much to say about this film. 15:17 to Paris was too short to make me care and too long to keep me entertained with its substance. These heroes honestly belittled their own heroics by portraying themselves in such a poor reenactment. Clint Eastwood’s directing fell flat this time, and this was a true disappointment, especially after these three men saved almost a hundred lives.

Blooper-Reel Rating