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15:17 To Paris, The

Warner Bros. // PG-13 // May 22, 2018
List Price: $22.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted June 1, 2018 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

It is quietly staggering to me the number of terror attacks in France, Belgium or any other European country but almost as much are those that we hear about that are thwarted before they are executed. And when three Americans helped stop a Moroccan man on a train from Amsterdam to Paris from expending all of his 300 rounds on that train, it could very easily be seen as a tragic act that was thankfully stopped. And Clint Eastwood, who is in a vein now of directing real-life stories of heroism such as Flags of Our Fathers and Sully, decided to add this to his resume.

Dorothy Blyskal adapted the book of the same name into a screenplay. The book was written by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey Stern, but the noteworthy item is Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone were those (along with Chris Norman) who prevented the attack from becoming fatal, and they also appear in the film as themselves. Friends since childhood, they keep in touch despite their paths taking them elsewhere and in and out of the military. The film bounces from the present day events back into their childhood and teenaged years until the storylines intersect; the earlier sequences include Judy Greer (Tomorrowland) and Jenna Fischer (The Office), who play Stone's and Skarlatos' respective mothers. As the boys turn into men and are in their respective places in the world, they meet for a tour across Europe, and are together when the attack happens.

So sometimes, the casting of non-actors in roles can work, and sometimes it can't, and Eastwood decided to triple the risk in 15:17 to Paris, and the results are not good. Now this isn't entirely the fault of these real people; in order, Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos are all fine folks (based on what news footage I saw of them before I knew a film of their story would be made), and Stone's physical presence onscreen is evident, even if his charisma while present, does not match it. Sadley and Skarlatos are okay and without issue.

But Eastwood puts too much import on them and the film is left as a bit of a shell. Greer and Fischer try to do work in the film but they aren't in it enough to have any emotional resonance; in smaller roles are guys like Tony Hale (Veep), Thomas Lennon ((Reno 911!) and Jaleel White (Family Matters) appear in smaller roles, though as school instructors would appear to be roles of consequence. And if that trio is in a drama, I think either the director is either a) too clever for himself, b) isn't completely sure what he's doing or c) trying to troll all of us. My guess? B or C.

Mostly though? This is bad, more painful bad than anything, but bad nonetheless. It devolves into a weird minimalism at one point that leaves you wondering, even with a film with a 94-minute runtime, when it's going to end. And by that point, 15:17 to Paris hasn't really established anything more than what it had been telling us to that point; that Sadler, Stone and Skarlatos are friends and they would help each other out how they can. When things do get to the point where the attack happens, then Eastwood's matter of fact storytelling style gets a little more gripping, but with little effort put into the first couple of areas, the viewer can hardly be blamed for missing the last part.

Maybe that's what Clint Eastwood wanted when it came to 15:17 to Paris, a boring, tired, seemingly endless journey that doesn't get things happening until the end. I doubt that's the case, so the result in the meantime is a vastly disappointing one.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Given the AVC encode in this 2.40:1 feature from Warner, and given what we know about Eastwood's preferences for apparent desaturation(?) and conveying more of a black and/or grey image, seeing some of the shots in a Dutch club with blue lights set against black backdrop was a bit of a surprise, though a pleasant one. Colors in soccer jerseys also look natural and vivid, flesh tones were accurate and image detail abundant and free of haloing or image smoothing. Eastwood's images are simple but effective on Blu-ray.

The Sound:

Dolby Atmos for this one and it's straightforward in presentation. Ambient noise like military formations and cadences sound natural, dialogue is consistent, and the low murmur of an escalator are dynamic moments that sound good in this format, with the train getting larger moments of subwoofer engagement. It's not immersive or jaw dropping but doesn't really want to be, sounds as good as it's going to.

The Extras:

Eastwood films are typically extra-free and this is no different; "Making Every Second Count" (8:11) is a retelling of the events on that 2015 day from those involved in stopping the attacks, and "Portrait of Courage" (12:27) is more production-focused, covering the discussions on casting and practical filming.

Final Thoughts:

We may be getting to the point where we have to discuss what it is Clint Eastwood is bringing to Hollywood's storytelling table. Not because of whatever people think of his politics, but because there appears to be little investment to what he's doing right now, whether it's him or his cast, or in this case, three friends who try but don't bring a lot to the dance. Technically the disc is fine and the extras are what they are, but you're probably better off reading a story about the attacks then watching a film about them.

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