Patriot Tales: Clint Eastwood discusses work on '15:17 to Paris'

Aaron Brown
February 11, 2018

Ha!' He said, 'Send me the book. Ought not be adapted. I use the word astonishing not as a positive for the film in terms of cinematic quality, but astonishing as to the decisions that have been made in bringing this undoubtedly heroic story to the screen. We see fragments of the run-up to the aborted attack at the film's start and, here and there, throughout "The 15:17 to Paris". Far too much of "15:17 to Paris" is taken up with travelogue scenes of the young men touring Venice, or Rome, or hitting the dance floor in Amsterdam.

Not a single person died in the attack, and the three heroes were awarded France's highest recognition, the Legion of Honour.

The difficulty with this movie was evident from the release of the trailer. I'd say, liberally, ten to twenty minutes.

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. One passenger was shot and he survived. They saved lives and did a great deal to bolster the image of Americans overseas, at a time when films such as Eastwood's own "American Sniper" exported a divisive but extraordinarily profitable image of another, steelier kind.

They're not the only people on the train that day who portrayed themselves in the movie.

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And here is where the film runs into trouble. I read this as a nod to Stranger Things or IT, except, in this story, there would be no supernatural foes to fight eventually but real, human evil to confront. "An actor tries to get into the character to that degree". Always a little hefty, he loses weight to be able to qualify for the Air Force. It's hard to really dole out blame here - for better or worse, this movie is exactly what Eastwood set out to do. However, in this detached rendition of that train incident, lasting no more than minutes, the three "heroes" and friends come out as even more ordinary than intended.

And San Francisco-based AppDirect, an online management platform whose co-CEO first met Trudeau in political science class at McGill University in Montreal, said it would add another 300 jobs in Canada in the next five years. A terrorist opened fire on the train, but the men took action, fighting and restraining him, while saving lives. Clint Eastwood directed this dramatization of three everyday American tourists who heroically saved an Amsterdam-to-Paris passenger train from a terrorist attack in 2015.

"After the terrorist, it kind of reaffirmed in our lives that there was a God, just because so many things went our way that day; just putting us in that time and place to begin with", Skarlatos said. Much of the film's middle portion, which focuses on the men backpacking through Europe in the days prior to the attack, feel especially superfluous, venturing into travelogue territory. But at the end of the movie, you don't really know them all that well. "You'd hide under the seat", Eastwood said.

Still, it's a true story of three young men and their courageous acts in the face of death and saving lives that should be seen, appreciated, and honored. While Akshay Kumar's recent output has been a chain of socially conscious dramas and Eastwood's films have, more often than not, celebrated the army, underneath their noble intentions, both their latest films are about one thing - huge icons of cinema displaying proud nationalism. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy probably that is what this is meant to be.

"Everything that's happened in the two years since then has been a confirmation for me that, man, for the first time in my life, I'm actually walking in the steps that (God) has led me down", he said. Also particularly egregious is a purposeless boilerplate narration by Sadler (quite literally approaching "You might wonder how I got here" territory) that's quickly abandoned in favor of good taste. Eastwood stakes out a middle ground here between the exhausted notion that history is made by great men (or women), and the more despondently fatalistic idea that all events are determined by the grand motion of social and economic forces, in which the individual is incidental if not entirely irrelevant.

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