Lifelong friends Spencer, Alek, and Anthony have spent their lives trying to find where they fit and best follow their sense of right. When they end up on a train targeted by a terrorist they will have to find their courage within. Can they stop the tragedy before it’s too late? Find out in… real life when this happened… but also The 15:17 to Paris.
How?! This is gonna be a hard one to write about because on the one hand it details a truly courageous act of bravery by a few young men and on the other hand it’s a film experiment that is at times the worst thing I’ve ever seen put to screen. Perhaps on the level with the Atlas Shrugged films. Anyway, the story is very straightforward, Spencer, Alek, and Anthony meet as kids in Sacramento and become good friends. They are outsiders fascinated by the military and serving the country. Despite moving away from each other they keep in touch throughout their life. Spencer and Alek join the military and both have somewhat underwhelming experiences. While Spencer is medically rejected for special forces, ending up instead in a support branch of the Air Force, Alek enlists in the Oregon National Guard and is mired in Afghanistan. Hoping to see a little of the world on break they travel to Europe with Anthony and travel from Italy to Germany to Amsterdam and eventually grab a train to Paris (I forget which one). On the train a terrorist attempts to take control but the three friends (along with a couple other passengers) tackle and subdue the assailant. They are heroes. THE END.
Why?! Why was the film made? Oh, no. The motivations of the characters. Right. Uh… it’s just life, man. Seriously, the film does a pretty good job of feeling pretty true to life. It’s doesn’t shirk over the fact that Spencer hoped to be a search and rescue ranger in the Air Force, but didn’t medically make the cut. It shows both his frustrations along with Alek’s in feeling like the military didn’t live up to what they imagined it would be. This does a good job of framing the final scene for exactly what it was, an act of bravery that easily could have resulted in their deaths.
Who?! Obviously one of the defining features of this film is that many of the real life people involved portrayed themselves… to mixed results. There was a funny rumor that Clint Eastwood asked France if the actual terrorist could portray himself which cannot possibly be true. So you heard it here first: the internet sometimes lies.
What?! This is actually a hard category given how true to life (almost cinema-verite) style this film is. There is a small moment later in the film where the two main characters make fun of a tiny Coke can on the train which is probably less product placement than Clint Eastwood asking them what they remember from the first part of the train ride and them saying “uh, we made fun of a tiny Coke can and fell asleep.”
Where?! This is actually an interesting entry given that the film was partially chosen as an A+ setting film. In reality Paris is in the title but they never actually reach Paris (until the end when they get military honors from the French President). It is actually mostly set in Sacramento and then Italy is the main setting for their actual road trip. So I’m downgrading it. B+
When?! Ha! Also interesting since 15:17 is a weird exact time in the title. Not the traditional A+ setting for this either. Since it’s based on a real event there is technically a brief moment in the film where you know the date and exact time at which things are happening, which is kinda amazing. It deserves it. A+
This film is more or less a mixture of a Christian and experimental film that somehow was released to theaters for reason that are… actually readily apparent. It was directed by Clint Eastwood. For the first twenty minutes I had to seriously consider whether this was the worst film I had ever seen. I had to turn it off twice and take breaks to get through it. Once we got to when the main characters were grown up it got a bit better. The acting was still pretty rough (the main guy Spencer was actually surprisingly OK) but it felt brutally honest and I appreciated that. The ending was actually pretty crazy with how close they come to death and having to recreate that must have been really hard. Anyway, it’s bad and only worth watching if you are interested in seeing a (failed) experiment in filmmaking. As for Hard Ticket to Hawaii, I can 100% see why this is a beloved Z-movie series by Andy Sidaris. It is over the top and pretty much hits every cliche of 80’s/90’s action all in one neat package. We got crazy clothes, crazy frisbee and skateboard scenes (what the kids want), crazy boobs everywhere (what the kids want), giant explosions (what the kids want), etc. etc. etc. It does seem to toe the line between inadvertently hilarious and purposefully so. That always makes it tough, but kudos to them if they did purposefully make a bad film… because it’s certainly hard to tell. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I wonder, hey, why can’t I get a job that will allow me to mess around and pay me millions of dollars to flush $30 million dollars down the toilet. Well if you’re Clint Eastwood you can! Let’s go!
The Good – I do think there is a place for films like this. I actually felt a bit embarrassed in watching it, because it felt like I was making fun of some good hearted story and people and actors and ideals somehow. None of the multitude of problems with the film reflect on the actual values on screen. People should be able to have and appreciate art that reflects their wholesome all-American flag-waving values. The final third of the film picks up and I can kind of see why Eastwood made the film and decided to make it like this. It is an interesting story as well, although maybe more interesting as a book rather than a movie.
P’s View on the Preview – Is there any doubt at all what everyone would be curious about going into this film? Can these people act? Would this experiment Eastwood cooked up work? If not for that you would kind of just have a not very interesting idea for a drama if I’m going to be frank. Otherwise it was going to be vaguely interesting to see what parts of the lives of these three people we would see, and whether Eastwood would pull a fake-baby-in-American-Sniper on us or something.
The Bad – Whhhhhoooooooooo doggy, these people can’t act. And the stunner? The worst part of the movie is the beginning when nearly everyone was actual established (cough, television, cough) actors! The first third of the film is a travesty. The middle is a whole lotta nothing, and then the end is fine if the people could act (but they can’t). Also, if this wasn’t made by Clint Eastwood it would (1) have a budget of $1 and (2) be a straight up Christian film released to 400 theaters. The grand experiment was a failure, despite all the potential good the film might have going for it in the end.
The BMT – Yeah I think it has to be, and perhaps it’ll get us to venture into the drama sphere more. While bad dramas tend to be dull, there was a lot of meat on this bone to pick apart. And it certainly took me out of my bad movie comfort zone. Something to think about.
Welcome to Earf – Judy Greer was in The 15:17 to Paris and Marmaduke with Owen Wilson, who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!
StreetCreditReport.com – Uh, what is the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah UP THE WAZOOOO! Here and here and here and here. People hated this film. It actually legit had to be done. How many bad dramas do we really get? I mean … considering we don’t really watch those low budget Christian films or VOD Nicholas Sparks knock-offs. Not many I tells ya!
Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, the final friend of the cycle was Hard Ticket to Hawaii. This film is fun as hell. The stars are playboy playmates (wowza!) and they are extremely game for some silly shenanigans in Hawaii. Made by Andy Sidaris, the film is probably the closest we’ve gotten to the classic Room or Troll 2 territory. Actually it is probably really close to Troll 2. The issue I think I ultimately had was I had a hard time determining whether Sidaris was serious or not. The ending of the film certainly made me think he wasn’t (a giant terribly fake snake comes out of a toilet and they blast it with a bazooka), which is an obvious problem. You can’t make intentional bad films … but holy crap this gets close. A solid A- with an option to bump it to an A if I watch some other Sidaris films and realize that he is for reals.
You Just Got Schooled – I can’t think of something to do for 15:17 to Paris … but what about Hard Ticket to Hawaii! Maybe we can answer this question now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAVNlXUqaqI
Welp … yeah they are serious. For reals. “I’ll be a very sorry feminist” wowza! “A trained ape can make a movie” Phew! They compared their films to the Louvre! They don’t seem to be as delusional as someone like Tommy Wiseau or Claudio Fragasso, but they do seem very serious … fine I’ll give it an A!!! I’ve been convinced!