Before I saw Clint Eastwood’s new film 15:17 to Paris, I had read reviews of the movie, and most of them were fairly unforgiving. But I gave the movie the benefit of the doubt; critics and the box office have been unkind to good movies in the past.
After I watched it though, I realized that 15:17 to Paris deserved every ounce of mud slung at it.
There are a lot of problems with this movie, least of all that it covers the events of an attempted terrorist attack that lasted less than five minutes total. The movie feels stretched out to fill time requirements to be considered a feature-length film.
In this review, I’m going to compare this movie to Patriots’ Day, a movie that covers the events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, and tells the story of a terrorist attack much better than 15:17 to Paris.
For some backstory, the movie centers around the 2015 attack on a train going from Amsterdam to Paris, during which several passengers take down the attacker. Herein lies one of the major problems with this movie. In total, the fight between the terrorist and the four men lasted roughly ten to twenty minutes. In comparison, while the Boston Marathon bombing only lasted a matter of minutes, the ensuing manhunt for the perpetrators lasted for several days, giving filmmakers a lot of interesting material to work with.
Because of this severe limitation, the movie is almost entirely filler up until the main event. The movie starts with our main characters (more on them later) in middle school, and another large part of the movie focuses on the main characters’ European vacation. In comparison, Patriots’ Day doesn’t waste time with this useless filler. You never see Mark Wahlberg’s character as a high schooler, you don’t see the bombers going to tourist attractions in Boston, and you don’t see the Marathon planning committee figuring for how many toilets the marathon might need. These things aren’t included because they wouldn’t make any meaningful contribution to the plot. The main characters meeting people in Venice or going to a nightclub in Amsterdam (yes, these are real scenes in a movie about a terrorist attack) add nothing the story. There are scenes somewhat like this in Patriots’ Day, but instead of lasting for an hour, they are extremely brief as well as being few and far between.
Another thing that Patriots’ Day did well that 15:17 didn’t even attempt was the backstory of the attacker (or attackers, with regards to Patriots’ Day). Patriots’ Day shows the attackers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for what they were: people. As heinous as they were in their actions, the movie shows the dynamic between the two, and gives more clues as to why the attack happened in the first place. None of this is present in 15:17 to Paris. Aside from the attack scene and for a few brief moments beforehand, the audience doesn’t see attacker Ayoub el-Khazzani’s face, much less his path to attempting to kill dozens of people.
One of the things many critics have given Eastwood credit for is using the actual defenders as actors in the film. Personally, I think this move was completely unnecessary and added nothing to the movie overall. Their acting was oftentimes Birdemic: Shock and Terror levels of bad.
Come to think of it, this movie shares a lot of similarities with Birdemic: Shock and Terror. The acting is bad, and the filler leading up to the main action is pointless and drawn out. Unlike Birdemic, however, 15:17 to Paris isn’t so-bad-that-it’s-good; it’s just bad.