Monday, 19 February, 2018

'The 15:17 To Paris' Review: Dir. Clint Eastwood (2018)

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
| 11 February, 2018, 05:43

Since making "American Sniper", Clint Eastwood has turned to American heroism as a theme.

In August 2015, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone helped thwart a terrorist attack on a high-speed train bound for Paris.

The heavy handedness of the story of these three as kids very quickly proves that Eastwood is setting out to make a jingoistic, "America rules!" film, as these kids play with guns, say their prayers each night, and authority be damned, will do what they want when they want, because, 'Murica! "We were a little hesitant". This would have been better served as a documentary with the three men serving as the re-enactors than trying to deliver lines with any kind of ethos - and again, they supposedly said these words. It's the last thing he wanted, I'm sure, but Eastwood's latest ends up feeling like a stunt.

The other issue with the film is how it sensationalises Islamic terrorists - and while they are the scum of the universe, portraying them as those being vanquished by American valor is unsubtle, jingoistic showboating.

Kumar's previous movie, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was even more boisterous, going so far as to applaud certain measures taken by the ruling party, and Eastwood's American Sniper was nearly fetishistic in its Republicanness.Now, there is nothing wrong with movies being political, nor is there anything wrong with artists being frank about their political leanings.

The longtime friends remember that harrowing day on the train well.

Stone was slashed with a bolt cutter around the neck as Skarlatos and Sadler knocked the attacker unconscious and then "hog-tied" him. On that day a single gunman, Ayoub El Khazzani, boarded Thalys train 9364 in Amsterdam and while it was in French territory emerged from one of the train's restrooms with an assault rifle and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. The film shows how they used to get into trouble in school and how two of them, Skarlatos and Stone, ended up in the military. Their conversations rarely amount to much more than small talk and commenting on whatever ancient ruin or landscape is in front of them, so it's tough to get inside their heads as adults.


Interestingly, preteen Stone keeps a poster of Clint Eastwood's Letter from Iwo Jima on his bedroom wall. "Then once we were able to subdue him, we just fell right into our roles".

The trio - despite no prior acting experience or lessons - played themselves in the film, released this week, which shares the story of their friendship through childhood up to the 2015 train incident.

The 15:17 to Paris isn't really an original Eastwood story. That was because numerous other passengers also played themselves and the film provided a kind of reunion for all of them. "It's more like a reunion for everyone".

"He just sprung it on us!" said Stone.

Despite the attempts of first-time screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal (working from a book that Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone wrote with Jeffrey E. Stern), there does not appear to be an involving feature film in their story, heroic though it is.

"We thought the projectionist had put on the wrong film for the first quarter of an hour", said the Parisian newspaper, lamenting that Eastwood took 75 minutes to recount the friends' "tedious" childhoods in California. "Clint Eastwood gave us a lot of freedom on that". The conversation felt unnecessarily profound, especially considering they were young men galavanting around Europe. But I did think about, 'What happens if these guys turn out to be three stiffs?' " says Eastwood, cracking his stars up during a group interview at the Four Seasons Hotel.

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