Monday, March 12, 2018

The 15:17 To Paris *** (2018)

Clint Eastwood's The 15:17 to Paris was released with little fanfare and generally dismissed by critics, judging by its Rotten Tomatoes Rating. As Marvel Movies reign over the Box Office, Eastwood's quiet study of heroism completes a sort of trilogy he began with American Sniper and Sully. Here he takes an experimental approach, casting non-professional actors who recreate their role in stopping a terrorist attack on a commute from Amsterdam to Paris.

Eastwood cast the three men who thrawted the terrorist attack to recreate their roles in an inspired bit of casting. The three actors Anthony Sadler, Alex Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone are all believable, slightly mechanical at times, but they do bring a layer of verisimilitude missing from many motion pictures. 

The first half of the film recounts their friendship when the three met in Middle School, all natives of Sacramento. All three attended a Christian School and grew up religious and patriotic. Eastwood never hits us over the head with their Christianity, there's one scene featuring a prayer, but things never get heavy handed. Unlike "faith based" films, Eastwood never proselytizes to his audience.

Once they grew up, two enlist in the military and one goes to college. They agree to meet in Germany for a vacation. Their tour of Europe goes fine until they head to Paris, a city they are repeatedly warned not to visit. 

Eastwood films the attack scene without fanfare or panache, the fight is brutal, yet never graphic. The three of them stopped a gunman who could've killed a number of people on the train, becoming heroes and were the toast of France for a time in the summer of 2015. 

The 15:17 To Paris is a subtle study of real life heroism with fanfare or flashy style. Mr. Eastwood goes against the grain here - reminding us any one can be brave and take action at the right moment. 

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