Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort hits blu-ray today from Warner Brothers, and is based on the true story of three Americans, friends, who stopped a planned terrorist attack on a Paris bound train on 21 August, 2015.
As much as I love Eastwood’s body of work, both as a director and as an actor, this film comes across as gimmicky hiding behind a wave of patriotism (there are a number of American flags to be seen everywhere), and a drapery of Republicanism.
Instead of casting actors in the roles of the friends, Eastwood cast non-actors to carry his film, the actual trio who foiled the attack, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Spencer Stone.
Interweaving the story of their lives growing up together (and how the world was against them from the start), and the train journey Eastwood sets up a story of a group of friends who were outcast and bullied, played with a lot of guns, were Christian, and who became American heroes.
The acting from all of the cinematic incarnations of Alek, Anthony and Spencer are universally bad, (as are a number of other characters) as Eastwood tries to pursue a docu-drama feel to his film. As amazing as it was that these three men were able to thwart a terrorist attack, acting seems to be a bit beyond them, and perhaps they should have simply served as advisers on the film.
This slight against their acting is not meant to impugn their actions, which were incredibly heroic. But they were just average men, put in an extraordinary situation. Filling out their lives simply gives Eastwood a chance to stir some patriotism while making pointed about teachers, and things in American culture he no longer agrees with.
It’s as if he’s using the platform to promote his own political agenda, something that the right accuses the left of on a regular basis. Whether it’s true or not can be argued from both sides, but it would seem Eastwood has a low opinion of American society as it currently stands.
Now while I recognise a number of things in the flashbacks are based on actual incidents, I get the impression incidents, and moments were cherry-picked to illustrate not only the friendship, but the hardships these men went through.
It’s a solid story, poorly executed, which is saddening coming from the director of Unforgiven (heck even Heartbreak Ridge).
The blu-ray comes with a pair of featurettes as extras, one on the making of the film, and the other about the actual event, and the three friends who were in the right place at the right time.
The 15;17 to Paris is available today from Warner Brothers on DVD and Blu-Ray.