15:17 to Paris a Slow Train but Interesting Angle for a True Story

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Have you ever played the game where you try to figure out who would play you in the movie of your life? If you're Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, or Spencer Stone, then you don't have to think about it any longer. The three were selected by Director Clint Eastwood to play themselves in the biographical picture 15:17 TO PARIS.

The film details the thwarted terrorist attack on a passenger train which was stopped by Skarlatos, Sadler and Stone. However, the film tries to do much more than that, as it reaches back into their childhoods to show how they became friends, became separated, and followed different life paths until meeting up again for a backpack tour of Europe that placed them in the right place at the right time.

The effort was to show how their lives had a sort of predestination to put them in position to stop the attack. If that's the case -- and it may be -- it was not visible in the 90% of the movie that led up to the actual event which was used to sell the show. Perhaps it's difficult for a screenwriter to pull off decent foreshadowing when writing from life, but the bulk of the story just seemed to meander from one life event to another with no actual thread guiding it.

While most "Based on a True Story" films deviate wildly from the source material, they do so to create a more sensationalist narrative. It's appreciated that Eastwood felt this was unnecessary, as the story itself was compelling enough. However, that story alone wasn't enough to fill a 90-minute film, and the rest of the source material drawn upon simply wasn't compelling enough to follow.

Skarlatos, Sadler and Stone aren't professional actors, but while they didn't seem to have quite the natural emotiveness that a professional actor fakes so well, they also weren't completely horrible at playing themselves--just, perhaps, overly reserved. The most interesting thing about 15:17 TO PARIS is that the reenactment involves the original participants. It's also, ultimately, it's greatest distraction.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0