Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Actual life heroes star in Clint Eastwood French assault…

Alek Skarlatos Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone in a scene from'The 15:17 to Paris Alek Skarlatos Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone in a scene from'The 15:17 to Paris
Herman Weaver | 10 February, 2018, 04:51

Based on a true story, The 15:17 to Paris follows the events that preceded a foiled terrorist attack on an August 21, 2015, train bound for the French capital.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone onboard 'The 15:17 to Paris'.

Now in his 80s, the latest turn in Clint Eastwood's remarkable career sees the producer-director taking on real-life heroes and situations to make his movies.

On Aug. 21, 2015, three young American men thwarted a terrorist attack on a European train. Thus, we are treated to non-remarkable flashbacks where the trio meet as kids in school and have to deal with all the typical things most kids and friends do.

Alek Skarlatos: "I'd probably have to do 'Bridges of Madison County'". Sadler was a college student, Skarlatos was in the National Guard and Stone was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Hundreds of years ago, we erected statues; 50 years ago, we waited until said hero died and named a street or park after them. Watching them as kids, seeing two of them enlist is boring enough, but when they meet in Europe for what seems like an endless travelogue, my eyes glazed over and the limitations of these guys, their lack of training as actors, become more obvious. There are a few nice touches during this portion of the movie, including a chance run-in with an American woman in Venice.

The 15.17 to Paris: Thank-you not very much Mr Eastwood

Blyskal does her best with themes that involve the unpredictability of tomorrow and the foreboding of the incoming terrorist incident, Stone constantly believing that he has something more important to do in his near future, but the set-up of the movie doesn't work in the slightest. Their conversations rarely amount to much more than small talk and commenting on whatever ancient ruin or landscape is in front of them, so it's tough to get inside their heads as adults. I think that's what I kinda fell back on in the moment on the train. You can feel the director killing time, trying to stretch this thing out: Two of the young men debate over what gelato flavors to eat.

After meeting the three men in their 20s at an awards show, Eastwood decided to make a film, but rather than casting actors, the Oscar-winning director called on the friends themselves.

The three sprang into action when a man burst from their train's bathroom with an assault weapon, pistol, box cutter and tons of ammunition. But it sometimes comes together as a story of a lasting friendship and a makeshift team, whose shorthand results in quick thinking and unwavering bravery. Until that point, The 15:17 to Paris struggles to stay on track. Certain characters bring up their faith so infrequently that when they do, it feels awkwardly wedged in and somewhat confusing. And this is very much what 15:17 is: an immersive, 3-D-rendered selfie, which arrests real-world historical figures in the glistening amber of cinema. In addition to Greer, Fischer and Lennon, "Veep" star Tony Hale makes an appearance, as does Jaleel White (yes, Steve Urkel himself).

Interestingly, preteen Stone keeps a poster of Clint Eastwood's Letter from Iwo Jima on his bedroom wall.

El-Khazzani has yet to go to trial but, according to a BBC report, an attorney representing the terror suspect asked showings of the movie be suspended while a judge reviews the evidence out of concern the film portrays a one-sided and fictionalized account presented as fact.

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