Real-Life Heroes Take Center Stage in ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ Trailer

As is typical of a Clint Eastwood film, resolute patriotism is the name of the game.
By  · Published on December 14th, 2017

As is typical of a Clint Eastwood film, resolute patriotism is the name of the game.

Warner Bros has dropped the first trailer for Clint Eastwood‘s latest, The 15:17 to Paris. There’s some novelty in the film’s sleek, crisp portrayal of real-life heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone (who play themselves in Eastwood’s biopic), but some other potential issues arise with the inherent emotional quality of heroism in the face of terrorism. But let’s watch the trailer first, shall we?

The 15:17 to Paris looks very much like a typical Eastwood movie: you’ve got the blatant patriotism in a larger-than-life event that really happened, and the ordinary is also highlighted and deeply appreciated, as Sadler, Skarlatos and Spencer had regular lives before they had to lay it all on the line to defuse a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train.

There is very little room to talk about this from an objective standpoint without maybe coming across a little insensitive to the actual men who were involved in the incident, and who have now starred in the film. Casting Sadler, Skarlatos, and Spencer as themselves definitely adds a level of authenticity to the overall story, and if the film does them justice, that’s a win on Eastwood’s part. He has certainly had a commitment to authenticity in the past, even if it has garnered mixed reception at times.

But the normalcy in the trailer of The 15:17 to Paris is so intrinsically linked to images of the military that any patriotism and bravery comes across as potentially violent anyway. There are shots of kids in camo print clothes reenacting war scenes in the woods, which is pretty indicative of the kind of movie The 15:17 to Paris is going to be if Eastwood isn’t careful.

Of course, this is a story about three men’s lives. It can and should be as specific to their experience as possible, and that will include their feelings and experiences of being in service. But as a film to be consumed by the masses, it would be concerning if Eastwood instead indulged too much in it as some kind of universal standpoint.

One thing that is consistent in lots of Eastwood’s films is the many depictions of American identity – and that includes concepts like nationalism. As a result, the “greater purpose” line in the 15:17 to Paris trailer almost comes across as too feel-good with the themes of the movie. If it really is going to be about the blueprint of the American everyman, The 15:17 to Paris should be more complex than the trailer lets on. We’ll know for sure what Eastwood was really after when the film comes out on February 9, 2018.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)