To my surprise the theatre was 95% packed. I guess I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos overpower that terrorist asshole and beat the shit out of him, and so I sat through 85 minutes of meandering, faint-pulse exposition to watch that happen.
The 15:17 to Paris (which should have been titled 3:17 to Paris) is obviously (a) not a real movie, (b) weak docudrama tea and (c) weirdly Christian to boot, but I didn’t hate it. I knew it would be shit, and so I was ready for that, and then it turned out to be mildly weightless. Most of it felt like I was sitting in the back seat of an Uber or on a high-speed European train, waiting to reach my destination. Was it horrifically boring? No, but it wasn’t what anyone would call engaging or riveting.
The guy next to me was murmuring slight approval from time to time, but I could tell he was waiting for the movie to kick into gear and actually do something. But it wouldn’t. It refused. I could sense that the guy wasn’t miserable, but he was certainly underwhelmed. The vibe in the theatre #4 was flat while it played, only one guy clapped when it ended, and I overheard two angry complaints out in the lobby.
I didn’t find it painful to sit through — just slightly boring. The bad-behavior childhood stuff…later. The stuff about the rebellious, bull-headed Stone going through Air Force training…didn’t care. I was fascinated once the incident finally happened (I never knew Stone would’ve been shot right through the forehead if Ayoub El Khazzani‘s rifle hadn’t jammed) and I loved the aftermath in Paris when Francois Hollande presented the trio with Legion of Honor medals.
The Christian stuff (i.e., Stone wondering if God has a special plan for him, and Skarlatos’ mom sensing that “something really exciting” is going to happen to him) is bullshit. It’s awesome that Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos did what they did, but I don’t want to hear any Christian propaganda about divine destiny. God has no rooting interest in anything good or bad happening on the planet Earth…none. If you want to believe that God had a plan for Spencer Stone, you also have to accept that he had one for Kevin Cosgrove.
I couldn’t believe that Eastwood spent so much time following Stone and Sadler as they visited tourist spots in Rome, Venice, Germany and Amsterdam. (They apparently hooked up with Skarlatos in Amsterdam or maybe Germany — I know he wasn’t with them in Rome or Venice.) I was almost laughing as Eastwood stayed with Stone and Sadler as they met a pretty girl in Venice, and then took her to dinner and then ordered some gelato. The camera dips down and actually inspects the various flavors as they’re deciding what to order. I’ve patronized a few Venice gelato shops, and this is the kind of stuff you don’t want to include in a movie, trust me.
But I love that these three guys (mainly Stone) brought down the Islamic bad guy, and I was basking very pleasantly in the feelings of calm, compassion and decency that the film radiates from time to time. The movie didn’t grab me by the lapels, but it didn’t piss me off.