IN his last two pictures, American Sniper and Sully: Miracle On The Hudson, Oscar-winning humanist director Clint Eastwood brilliantly distilled acts of valour and self-sacrifice torn from newspaper headlines.
The 15:17 To Paris, the dramatisation of a failed 2015 terrorist attack on board a train hurtling from Amsterdam to the French capital, seems like a similarly snug fit.
In a daring move designed to blur respectful reconstruction and Hollywood-glossed fiction, Eastwood casts the real-life American heroes – Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone – in a chronologically fractured travelogue penned by first-time screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal.
This artistic gamble backfires spectacularly. The lifelong friends exhibit almost no charisma through the lens and their monotone, staccato delivery of clunky, jarring dialogue robs Eastwood’s film of spontaneity, naturalism or humour.
The director is blinded by patriotic pride and, for the first time in a long, illustrious career, he goes off the rails.