The 15:17 to Paris: A mediocre film about great heroes

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As the Canadian Screen Award nominations were announced Tuesday, members of the film and TV industry weighed in on whether award shows could be a platform for change, in light of the #MeToo movement. His attack, apparently inspired by ISIS, was thwarted by the bravery and quick thinking of several passengers, notably three young American tourists: Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone.

Things eventually lead to the trip to Europe - almost an hour into the film - and while it's nice to see the three traveling around the continent taking in the sights, meeting various folk that mould their experience along the way, it's hard to see what scenes of them out buying ice-creams with a stranger from their homeland, or partying away in a nightclub really add to the narrative. In one of the film's few nuanced touches, the character's honest religiousness is contrasted with the hidebound, soul-killing bureaucracy of the boys' Christian school.

In many ways, Spencer and Anthony (who travel separately for part of the time while Alek visits a long-distance girlfriend in Berlin) are your typical Americans overseas, taking selfies in front of every major attraction or lovely view, eating and drinking their way across a continent.

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They hang out with a couple of women who then vanish from the film; hey, this isn't Before Sunrise. The kids work at staying in touch and keeping their friendship intact, which they do.

US Air Force Airman Spencer Stone charged at Ayoub El Khazzan after he wounded another passenger and managed to disarm him of the AK-47 and of a pistol which jammed as El Khazzan tried to shoot him. Though his role in the attack is not as prominent, a little more of his history after high school might have made his character feel as developed as the other two. Alek joins the National Guard, where he's stationed in Afghanistan. Later, as young adults, both Spencer and Alek enlist in the military looking for a greater objective and a way to help people.

Eastwood's decision to cast the three heroes was a questionable one (originally, he was planning to hire actors) although the idea was a commendable one. The three become fast friends, sharing an interest in war and weaponry and listening intently when a teacher, in one of the movie's numerous bits of foreshadowing, talks of Franklin D. Roosevelt as someone who "did the right thing at the right time to defuse critical situations". "I feel very blessed to have experienced that". None of the scenes feel important, and the kids are bad actors to top it off.

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A scene showing Anthony and Spencer talking about the future works a lot better. "He's taking a big risk by doing this and we're taking a big risk", says Skarlatos, who appeared on Season 21 of Dancing With the Stars. However, in this detached rendition of that train incident, lasting no more than minutes, the three "heroes" and friends come out as even more ordinary than intended. It's here where the heart of the story is and both the actors and Eastwood do a great job in maintaining the necessary intensity.

Like many films of this genre, the action aboard the train could easily have dominated the film. It's, frankly, what most people are going to this movie to see, and presumably what its stars wanted to recreate the least.

There's an oddly proud tradition of the notable and the famous starring as themselves in biographical films about their exploits, and one only needs to look at a list of those films to see that this casting has often worked well in the past. It just could've been much better.

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And never is this more apparent than in the final minutes of the film, when it finally arrives at the moment towards which it has been hurtling towards for nearly an hour-and-a-half.

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