By Jack Dignan
When I sat down and paid actual money to go see the new Fifty Shades movie this week, I figured it’d be the worst film to come out this weekend. It had to be, right? Surely. But, oh how I was wrong. The 15:17 To Paris goes beyond bad. They haven’t invented the right words yet to describe just how bad this film is. It’s so bad that I sat there in the theatre craving a re-watch of the entire Fifty Shades trilogy, which, until that point in time, was something I’d never consider doing.
The true story behind The 15:17 To Paris is about the only selling point this movie has to offer. In the context of the film, however, this incident would be considered a spoiler, so… spoiler warning, I guess. But, what we deal with here are the true-life stories of Spencer Stone and his two best friends Alek Scarlatos and Anthony Sadler, all played by the real-life people. Why? Probably because no self-respecting actor would’ve read this script and thought to themselves “yep, this is a movie I want to be a part of.” The three were all aboard a train to Paris while on vacation when, suddenly, a member of ISIS pulled out a gun and starting shooting.
These three friends banded together to take the man down, and what resulted is the heroic true story that, unfortunately, received a movie adaptation. Now, before I begin going on an absolute hammering of the atrocity that is this movie, I just want to say that this is in no way a reflection of how I feel about the true story. What these men managed to do goes beyond the word admirable. They saved lives that day, no doubt about that, and their courage is incredible, but, in the context of the film, this is one of the worst true stories I have ever seen. In fact, this may be one of the worst movies ever made, and I wish that were hyperbole.
Right from the opening scene, I knew this was going to be a rough 95 minutes. It opens with our three protagonists sitting in a car in a poorly framed, over-exposed Go-Pro shot with laughably generic narration from Anthony Sadler, who doesn’t even go on to become the main character. We’re then flung back a number of years to these men as children, forced to endure an impossibly bad twenty minute prologue that’s not only cheap looking, unbearably acted and all-round lazy, but it’s literally not relevant to anything that follows.
But don’t think for a second that what comes next is any better. It’s not. Ohhhh boy is it not. I wish I could say this film at least had something to say, but it doesn’t, outside of its strong military propaganda and director Clint Eastwood shamelessly putting up posters of his own movies all throughout (they were about the only scenes where this film feels like it was actually directed by a human being). What follows the atrocity of an opening is another twenty minutes of setup; with Spencer Stone joining the military while montaging through his daily workout routine set to generic YouTube encouragement speeches. It’s bad. Holy fuck, it’s bad.
So, we’re now halfway through the movie, having achieved literally nothing, and by this stage, people in the theatre had already walked out. But the good news is that Spencer has finally convinced his BFFs to travel to Europe with him, and through a series of insanely poor editing choices featuring some of the worst acting ever put to screen, we montage through their trip… FOR HALF AN HOUR. Did we need to see a three-minute scene of them choosing what Gelato to eat? Of course not. Do we get it anyway? Of course we do. Literally every scene is like that, serving no purpose whatsoever.
Did this film have a screenwriter? It’s hard to tell. It feels like the actors were just set free in Europe with a camera crew following closely behind, capturing their every movie in an attempt to give this film enough footage to justify a theatrical release, as the actual incident, AKA the only reason people are going to see this film, lasts all of five minutes. Everything else is an incoherent mess where every scene leads literally to nothing and these characters are painted as unlikeable perverts with the worst sense of humour you’ll ever be forced to listen to. Watching this film is reminiscent of asking your relative how their holiday was out of politeness, then being forced to listen for 95 minutes, EXCEPT YOU PAID MONEY TO DO SO.
Plus, once we do get to the actual incident, it’s the most underwhelming moment of the film. There’s no suspense or buildup whatsoever, all valuable screen time wasted on the dumbest choices imaginable, right before the shirtless terrorist comes out with guns blazing. I’ve spoilt enough, it’s impossible not to when literally nothing at all happens in this entire movie, but the reason they’re able to actually stop this man… ooft. It’s bad writing, if there even was any writing involved. Two lucky coincidences saved the day; these men just took it upon themselves to make sure it stayed that way.
The 15:17 To Paris is literally the worst. One of my friends, not even halfway through, took an extended ten minute break just to kill time, while another left the cinema feeling nauseous at how bad this abomination of a movie ended up being. Clint Eastwood, are you okay? I can’t tell anymore. Not even the extras are good. But, without a doubt, my favourite moment in this film is when they actually board the train, which, as you might be able to guess, is set to depart at 15:17. Yet the screen above reads 17:07. That tells you just about everything you need to know about this absolute cluster-fuck of a film.
0 1/2 Stars
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