Review / ‘The 15.17 to Paris’ *** (M)

FROM Clint Eastwood in his 88th year comes this, his 36th feature as director, none lacking in merit, some more meritorious than others.

Dorothy Blyskal’s screenplay dramatises the book by Anthony Sadler telling about the afternoon of August 2, 2015 when he, together with schoolday-chums Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone were riding on Thalys train 9364 to Paris.

So why has Eastwood made a movie about three young Americans riding on a European train? In it, Stone, on leave from a US Air Force posting, Skarlatos, another US military man, and Afro-American Sadler, play themselves, perhaps giving the film an aura of authenticity that other films purporting to be based on real events don’t offer.

But what they did, while courageous, risky and laudable, occupies only a minor proportion of the film’s time. The rest, apart from some enigmatic brief sequences in which a bearded man boards the train, tells how their friendship developed at school. It tells how Stone prepared to enlist as a rescue airman and his paramedic training because of an eye condition affecting his spatial perception.

With a $US3 million budget, “The 15.17 to Paris” has already taken $US270 million at the box office. You might be forgiven for seeing in it a homily about ordinary guys keeping America safe, a feel-good moment telling how the trio brought down a terrorist about to shoot up the train with his AK47 and the 300 rounds of ammunition in his back pack.

At Capitol 6, Palace Electric, Hoyts Woden and Limelight

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