***/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Judy Greer
screenplay by Dorothy Blyskal, based on the book by Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone and Jeffrey E. Stern
directed by Clint Eastwood
by Bill Chambers The 15:17 to Paris is quintessential late-period Clint Eastwood, its emphasis on the procedural and the quotidian seeming at once a calculated rebuke to commercialism, vivid demonstration of what a crapshoot Eastwood's philosophy of shooting the first draft is, and proof that he has no desire to rest on his laurels as he nears the age of 90. The choices this movie makes can be so surreally unconventional, however, as to be vaguely ominous; I hope Eastwood's okay. The 15:17 to Paris is based on the would-be hijacking of a train bound for Paris in 2015, and the three Americans who subdued the lone-wolf terrorist--Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos--play themselves. (It's a postmodern ploy that everyone from Abbas Kiarostami (Close-Up) to Betty Thomas (Howard Stern's Private Parts) has attempted, though Eastwood probably had in mind Audie Murphy starring as himself in To Hell and Back, the big-screen adaptation of Murphy's own WWII memoir.) That being said, more experienced actors inhabit the roles in an opening childhood flashback, while Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer play Spencer's and Alek's mom, respectively, and other recognizable faces, including Jaleel White and Tony Hale, fill out the supporting cast. Yet when the vérité shenanigans begin in earnest, Greer and Fischer are still there as the real men's mothers--and, incidentally, haven't aged a day. This is far from as peculiar as things get, but it induces a cognitive dissonance that turns out to be fairly typical of the movie's tone. Watching The 15:17 to Paris is like falling into a low-key fugue state.
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