There are three things about Clint Eastwood‘s The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros., probably sometime in late November or December) that scare…okay, concern me. I didn’t moan or roll my eyes but I did go “hmmm” when I read about them. My brow was furrowed, and I say this with all due respect for Eastwood’s celebrated fast-shoot, fast-cut approach to making features.
Worry #1: Eastwood’s decision to cast the real-life heroes of the 2015 train attack in France — Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone — as themselves. You know that’s a dicey call, and that the best we can expect from these guys will be “not bad but somewhat self-conscious” performances. You know their best won’t be good enough. No one will make a big deal about it, but deep down people will be muttering.
Worry #2: The decision to tell the story of the friendship of these guys when they were kids. There’s no way of exaggerating how little I care about this aspect. Didn’t I just finish explaining that back-stories and origin stories are a pain in the ass, and that all a really good film needs is a gripping capture of the way things really are when stuff starts to happen?
Worry #3: The dopey-sounding title. Firstly the “The” is completely unnecessary. Delmer Daves‘ 3:10 to Yuma (’57) and James Mangold‘s 2007 remake, both based on a 1953 Elmore Leonard short story, didn’t see the need. Secondly, only military people use military time; everyone else uses the common colloquial. The title — hello? — should obviously be 3:17 to Paris. Keep it straight, simple.
The 15:17 to Paris was announced in April, and began shooting last month. It’s already damn near close to wrapping.
Based on “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes,” a 2016 book by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey E. Stern, which recounts a true-life episode in which three young guys, one of them a U.S. Air Force enlisted man, stopped an armed terrorist from murdering God-knows-how-many-passengers aboard a Brussels-to-Paris train.
The incident happened in August 2015 — the book, written by Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone and Jeffrey Stern, popped twelve months later.