Biography movies, another genre victim to dramatization, editing cuts, and wild cards in terms of quality to tell the story. Yet the great Clint Eastwood has proven to be quite the artist to bring these movies to life in that dark, emotional, presentation we all love. So, with another biography being released this weekend, yours truly is back to the trenches to give you some insight into the latest movies to sweep the nation. What is in store for you? Please read on to find out as I cover: The 15:17 to Paris.
Realistic: The movie’s highlight for me is how realistic the journey is, at least in terms of how their life progresses. That Hollywood magic of instant success, of things falling into the right place at the right time, are essentially absent in this film. You’ll get to see the struggles of the character’s lives, feel the stinging defeat at the limitations that were in their way, and experience the frustration at the ambiguity life holds. If realism and facts are your preference in these movies, then this film delivers on this premise and probably as close to the truth as you’ll get outside of talking to them.
A Fun Vacation: The chronicle of the heroes’ journey has some pretty fabulous settings that they transverse too. As the trio begin to tour Europe, you really get to see some fabulous sights of the culture held on that continent. The way the film is presented, this component of the movie is a fun breakup of the drama, and if you’re like me and haven’t traveled internationally, a nice way to drink in the settings. In addition, this was probably the most entertaining component of the film.
Cinematography: The movie also gets massive props for the utilization of camera work to sell the emotion of the moment. Eastwood’s latest film doesn’t have the most memorable moments in acting, but the camera picks up the slack. Key close ups, dynamic angles, and a constantly evolving structure are the components that help bring this tale to life for me. Once the sound editing and musical scores come in, that is when the scenes come together and paint the emotional tension of the film.
Quick Pace: Can’t lie, biographies sometimes knock my energy out depending on how long and slow they go. Like the train though, this movie moves at a very brisk pace, unyielding to the distracting tangents and keeping the film on pace. As such, this film didn’t lose me and I got to appreciate the tale from start to finish.
Overdramatic opening: The film starts with a glimpse back into the hero’s childhood days, which can be a tough time. For me though, these opening moments were where the acting suffered the most. Many of the teachers seemed to be overly grandiose in their negativity, their attitudes, and prejudice towards the kids. During parent-teacher conferences, these discussions turned into absurd arguments that seemed more extreme than necessary and to the point of eye-rolling for me. It’s all based on perspective, but the monstrous portrayal of these teachers either indicates action for their termination, or another example of movie magic gone wrong.
Piecemeal Presentation: I liked the presentation at the start, the integration of the actual event, intertwined with their history. So, I’m unsure why this concept was dropped a third of the way into the film and ditched for a different presentation. Even weirder, is that the movie felt very piecemeal to me, starting down one angle only to again drop it without any major resolution. Eastwood’s team kept taking leaps and bounds across the story including: hastily finishing the kid story, dropping the challenges in training, and in many cases forgetting the other major characters. Speaking of which…
One character vs. Three: The trailers say the film is about the three heroes of the movie, and it starts out that way. Then once again the other characters get pushed to the back burner, pretty much forgotten until halfway through the final act. Were the other’s tales just that lacking? Was it because only one of them did a lot of the physical work in the actual event the reason he was awarded most of the screen time? Honorable as this may be, the false advertising didn’t impress me so much in the film on something that based its promotion on three characters. Sorry guys, but the occasional shot of the friends doesn’t count as major storytelling.
Overhyped End: Don’t get me wrong, hostile attacks in any form are intense, scary, and traumatic. Yet, the hype the trailers placed on this movie was not fulfilled for me. The tension was low, the theatrics were gone, and in truth it was over in the blink of the eye. Again, I appreciate the realism, but a little magic at this point could have amped up the suspense and pulled me more into the story. I guess when you expect all three to have majorly stopped the incident, you expect bigger bang, so shame on me for that. Still, not the most climactic thrills to grace the screen.
Eastwood is famous for biographies, but this one didn’t have quite the investment, heart, and dynamic his other works have had. The 15:17 to Paris is certainly a more realistic movie, that keeps a quick pace and nice cinematography to tell pieces of a tale. While I enjoyed the vacation, aspects presented in the film, the movie failed to unite the fragments together, leading to a very haphazard and unfinished tale for me to enjoy. With all the hype, I expected more of Eastwood’s dramatic flair to take hold, but this film didn’t quite live up to what the trailers presented. So, if you’re looking for a realistic, big budget documentary hit the theaters, but my opinion is to save this one for a legal home viewing.
Movie Overall: 4.0