Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
Imagine being on a trip with your two closest friends, seeing the sights and looking to discover yourself. Imagine boarding a train along with hundreds of people, the day seemingly like any other day. Then it happens. A shot is fired. People are panicking, running, screaming, fearing for their lives and their loved ones. What would you do? What could you do? That's the situation three American friends touring Europe were faced with.
The film follows Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone who boarded the train from Amsterdam to Paris and found themselves in the middle of a terror attack. The friends took action and put themselves in the line of fire in order to save a train full of lives.
The film itself had a lot of meaning, heart, and inspiration inside it. It took a story of courage and put it on screen for everyone in the world to see, to inspire and encourage. The problem with the film was mostly the editing and the acting. While I know most of the people in the film are unknowns and aren't pros and the three main characters were the actual heroes on the train, the acting felt like one of those low-budget films that universities make. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't convincing either. I hate to even complain about the acting at all because I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for these three heroes. The fact that director Eastwood was able to get the actual men to play themselves and relive that experience was remarkable. The other issue was the editing. It opens with us seeing the terrorist board the train, then we get a prologue narration, and we are sent back to the literal beginning with the three friends as kids. The next hour is their stories with a few flashforwards thrown in just in case we forgot where all this was leading up to. I felt the flashforwards were completely unnecessary considering we see all this footage again once the story reaches the train point. The opening scene and narration were well done and more than enough introduction.
I read where someone had wished the film had played out more like United 93 where the entire focus of the film is only on the event, balancing between the terrorists and the victims. I thought heavily on that after seeing 15:17 and I honestly think Mr. Eastwood took the right approach. What's the first thing you think about someone who saves your life, after the obvious "thank you"? You think "Who is this person?" Seeing the backstory of these men was enlightening and I think necessary. We were able to see that they were normal men with normal lives who had doubts and issues just like the rest of us. Spencer himself even felt like there was nothing special about him and was often conflicted about where he was supposed to go in his life. They were just like the rest of us and I felt that was the most powerful part of the entire film. They proved that anyone can take a stand, if you just have the faith and courage to do so.
In conclusion, I did like the film. It had an important message and it really did try its best to pay respect to these three courageous men. Even with its small issues, The 15:17 to Paris is well worth seeing. I give the film a 2.5 out of 4.
© 2018 Nathan Jasper