Inspired by true events, The 15:17 to Paris follows three Americans (Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos, all playing themselves) as they work together to stop a terrorist plot aboard a European train – with the movie, for the most part, unfolding in flashback and exploring the heroes’ lives up to that point. It’s well-intentioned subject matter that’s handled, for the most part, rather poorly by Clint Eastwood, as the director delivers a slow-moving narrative that’s rife with misguided and often laughable elements – with the film, for the most part, closer in spirit and tone to a small-screen, low-budget reenactment than a major motion picture. The biggest and most obvious problem here is the decidedly amateurish work by the movie’s leads, as the three men, likeable as they may be, prove hopelessly unable to convincingly step into the shoes of their “characters” and deliver the copious dialogue contained in Dorothy Blyskal’s less-than-subtle screenplay – which ultimately does ensure that the movie’s hold on the viewer, for much of its running time, is tenuous at best. (It doesn’t help, certainly, that Blyskal has suffused the proceedings with eye-rollingly overwrought instances of plotting, including an ongoing predilection for presenting the protagonists as infallible, Christ-like figures.) The low-rent vibe is nevertheless rarely as disastrous as one might’ve anticipated, and there’s little doubt, as well, that the climactic attack is as visceral and exciting as anything within Eastwood’s body of work, which ultimately does confirm The 15:17 to Paris‘ place as an erratic effort that really could and should have been so much better.
**1/2 out of ****