The 15:17 to Paris (2018)


Clint Eastwood directs Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos in this biopic of three Americans backpackers (two off duty military personnel) who subdued a terrorist spree killer on a European train, the heroes playing themselves onscreen. 

A neat tribute to three real life John McClanes, there was a lot of audible blubbing in the matinee screening I attended when the survivors received their medals. The final twenty minutes recreating the attack are heart pounding stuff. Clint plays the long game here. He lets three amateur actors reenact the boring humdrum of their lives. There’s little excitement as they become friends, struggle in the military and flirt with other tourists and see the sights. But then in those desperate minutes, when they step up and awkwardly subdue a killer, a eureka moment occurs, akin to the finales of M Night Shyamalan. We have witnessed the very points in their lives when, sometimes only in passing, the essential skills, strengths and mindsets have been acquired. The random tools from their more everyday backstories come into play in those gruelling minutes of vigilantism. Clint makes his heroes ordinary, occasionally fuck ups. But his statement is all people are capable of being heroes, even if much of their mundane existences have led them away from these moments.  It feels very much like a Guardian baiting movie; the kids have NRA stickers on their bedside cabinets, God and prayer and Jesus are intoned at regular intervals, the antique humour is that blokey comradely joshing you haven’t seen onscreen since John Ford’s heyday, the acting would struggle to make the final cut of The Only Way is Essex. Maybe Clint is laying out the harsh reality that if you were on that train, and the shit hit the fan, you’d want these average Joes with their untrendy politics blocking for you, rather than a lefty liberal movie star hiding behind his or her stunt double. As Dirty Harry says “Yeah, well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard – that’s my policy.” Politically I disagree, but this a very diverting case study from the opposition.


My Top 10 Clint Eastwood Directed Movies

1. Mystic River (2003)

2. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

3. Gran Torino (2008)

4. Unforgiven (1992)

5. A Perfect World (1993)


6. High Plains Drifter (1973)

7. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

8. Pale Rider (1985)

9. Play Misty For Me (1971)

10. The Mule (2018)

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