It’s rare that you see a movie as poorly made as The 15:17 to Paris, especially one made by an Oscar-winning icon, but within three minutes it’s clear that anyone who bought a ticket to ride this train made a horrible, horrible decision.
Though the Clint Eastwood film stars the three real-life individuals who stopped a terrorist on a train–a risky move no matter what the story–it’s the opening scene that has Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer, relegated to thankless mom roles, that caused me to turn to my brother (who thankfully had paid for the movie tickets) and call him an asshole. The writing was so bad, the acting so atrocious, that it was obvious from the first few minutes that we had committed to a true stinker, a 90-minute trainwreck that feels like it’s three hours long.
As Eastwood attempts to reenact three friends’ childhood to attempt to explain their heroics later on in life but really just to kill time because his movie is about a five-minute event, I tried my best to stifle laughter–often slipping into silent hysterics–at the awfulness I was watching on screen. The child actors, and really the entire cast, are bad, but the screenplay is what’s worse, a by-the-numbers rendition with on-the-nose dialogue, completely pointless scenes, and aimless plot that tries and fails to find something interesting about these boys-turned-men that doesn’t take place on a train from Amsterdam to Paris.
As unintentionally funny as The 15:17 to Paris is at times, it’s also painfully dull. Eastwood follows his subjects around Europe as they take selfies, order beers and talk with strangers about nothing whatsoever, because they have nothing to say. The acting is bad because these men aren’t actors, but that doesn’t excuse the nonexistent plot that is literal filler until the events on the train occur.
When the terrorist attack does occur, it’s an impressive few minutes, but more for the fact that it really happened than anything that Eastwood puts to screen. These young men, especially Spencer Stone, are heroes, but in The 15:17 to Paris, the only thing they really save on that train is the audience from being subjected to more awfulness.
The 15:17 to Paris is a terrible movie. Horribly acted and even more horribly written, it is a bland, boring film that is literally a waste of time and money. I could enter a train pun here, but it doesn’t deserve it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.