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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

The 15:17 to Paris  (2018)
1 Star
Directed by Clint Eastwood.
Cast: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer, Cole Eichenberger, Bryce Gheisar, Paul-Mikél Williams, Thomas Lennon, Alisa Allapach, Tony Hale, Jaleel White, P.J. Byrne, Ray Corasani.
2018 – 94 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references, and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, May 29, 2018.
How could Clint Eastwood, director of such a gripping, authentically helmed docudrama as 2016's "Sully," make a film less than two years later as stilted, confused, meandering and altogether amateurish as "The 15:17 to Paris?" This true-story retelling of three American friends who thwarted an attempted August 2015 terrorist train attack while en route to Paris from Amsterdam goes wrong almost immediately and never fully recovers. The first half is one head-scratching, mind-boggling scene after the next, so incessantly misguided and treacly one begins to question if he or she is hallucinating. The second half slightly improves by turning into an attractively photographed travelogue that really only served to make this viewer want to book a trip to Europe. The attack itself is reserved for the narrative's last fifteen minutes, feeling more like afterthought than a defining centerpiece.

Stretched amazingly thin at only 94 minutes, "The 15:17 to Paris" brings precious little insight to the lives of its three heroic protagonists (playing themselves to varying degrees of success) and leaves one feeling more empty than inspired. That the picture is based on a memoir written by these men—"The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes" by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey E. Stern—appears to be of no help in offering dimension or nuance to their life stories. Simply put, this is one of the most ill-advised biopics to grace screens in years.
© 2018 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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