The non-actors have very little to say to each other throughout this awful filmWARNER BROS PICTURES

This film is extremely boring.

Telling the real-life story of how three men stopped a terrorist attack on a train, Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris adapts five minutes of heroism into over ninety minutes of colossally flabby backstory. Casting the heroes as themselves, the film’s concept flirts with becoming an exercise in hyper-realism but lands with a heavy thump on the side of the mundane.

“Perhaps the mundanity is a comment on the fact that anyone can be a hero”

The problem is not so much the quality of their acting, which is not great, but their real lives, and the subsequent script adaptation to produce few stories worth dramatising. Starting during their school days, the three children meet and get to know each other unceremoniously. A bollocking from the headmaster over expired hall-passes cements the friendship and they proceed to lark about playing war games and cleaning their air guns. The necessity of child actors at this point could have brought a glimmer of talent but the performances stay very much in the realm of Year 4 school play – wooden and uninspiring.

The boringsroman continues with the men’s adult lives in the army. Attempts to create tension through intercutting scenes from the attack on the train fall flat, serving only to remind us that there is maybe a pay-off to all this dross. The top of the tedium, the summit of the sameness, the high point of the humdrum, however, is reached during the trio’s backpacking holiday around Europe. The interminable repetition of banal observations, selfies, coffees, selfies, drinks, selfies, forms a kind of torturous travel show, only explainable as a cure for insomnia.

Trailer for The 15:17 to ParisYOUTUBE

In one particularly bizarre moment, Spencer, accompanied by Anthony, meets a girl in Venice and spends a day flirting towards a potential romance. But she just disappears without resolution, Eastwood uninterested in any deviation from the three men and their quest for the most Instagram-worthy photo spot in Europe. 


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Despite having real friends in the central roles, there is no chemistry or sparky conversation. They are like three old ladies who have so little to talk about that they simply produce noise to fill the silence. The attempts to work in a narrative of destiny are cringingly contrived, the men needlessly debating over whether to visit Paris, and Spencer at one point suggesting the world is “catapulting him towards something”. When they finally do reach the moment of truth, it is amazingly undramatic, the speed with which they foil the attack illuminating just how misguided the concept of this film really is.

The real-life heroes, in another instance, could have created an avant garde piece of experimentation worthy of praise, or at least interest. To be extremely generous, perhaps the mundanity is a comment on the fact that anyone can be a hero, regardless of how compelling their lives are. Still, experimental or not, it fails on a fundamental level to produce anything more than a clunky mess of tedium and anticlimax