Thursday, February 15, 2018

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

When I saw the coming attractions for The 15:17 to Paris, I was curious to see how they could make an entire movie based on a train ride.  I suppose I could have read the book, but I still would have been curious.  The answer is that the movie tells the story leading up to the event.

For most of the film, we see bits and pieces of what happens on the train with the bulk of it being what happens to the characters as children.  Alek, Spencer and Anthony meet while attending the same school and getting into trouble together.  (The principal tells Alek and Spencer that Anthony is trouble, but they don’t seem to be any stranger to the principal’s office.)

Anthony changes school and Alek goes to live with his father, yet all three manage to stay in touch.  Spencer joins the Air Force and Alek joins the Army National Guard, which isn’t surprising given their love of the military.  Anthony remains a civilian.  When the opportunity arises, they plan a European vacation together.  They debate whether or not to even go to Paris, but they already have the train tickets.

The film is a difficult one to judge.  Using the actual heroes to portray themselves seemed kind of like a gimmick.  I realize that the word has a negative connotation, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it.  This isn’t to say that their acting was bad in any way.  It just seemed like it was done more for the attention rather than the effect.

There were also a few elements that seemed to feed into the scene on the train.  We’re shown Alek and Spencer getting the training necessary to subdue the terrorist and help keep a victim alive until he can receive medical attention.  This is especially evident with Spencer, who is shown receiving wrestling maneuvers he uses to take down the terrorist and a teacher telling him what to do in a scenario with the victim’s specific injuries.

This is a movie that’s good enough, but not necessarily excellent.  I got the feeling that there were a lot of details left out.  There aren’t a lot of twists and turns.  Most of the movie is buildup to the scene on the train.  After the scene, we get to see Spencer, Alek and Anthony being awarded a medal by the French government.  I got the impression that the script was meant to focus on the three American characters.  (Very little is said about the terrorist.  Also, in the final scene, there was mention of people of other nationalities helping.)

When I review a movie, I try to think of who might want to watch it.  I’m kind of hard pressed here, other than those who like movies based on actual events.  I think for most people, this is going to be a movie you’ll want to wait for on DVD if you see it at all.

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