For a re­viewof “The 15: 17 to Paris,”

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - Front Page -

In the sum­mer of 2015, three young Amer­i­can men from Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, boarded a train in Am­s­ter­dam, en route to Paris, while en­joy­ing a time- hon­ored rite of pas­sage: a Euro­pean back­pack­ing trip.

In Brus­sels, another young man boarded the train, with a back­pack full of guns and 300 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion. Af­ter tus­sling with Amer­i­can teacher Mark Moo­galian and shoot­ing him in the neck, he found him­self in a car with a trio of young Amer­i­cans filled up with youth­ful bravado, mil­i­tary train­ing and a de­sire to not die ly­ing down. What other heady com­bi­na­tion could in­spire a per­son to tackle a shirt­less man cock­ing an AK- 47 in a con­fined space?

When these events hap­pen, es­pe­cially when the he­roes are as ap­peal­ingly young and at­trac­tive as these are, there is the typ­i­cal fan­fare— the awards and dec­o­ra­tions, the ticker tape pa­rades, the talk show ap­pear­ances and even “Danc­ing With The Stars,” for Alek Skar­latos ( he came in third). Per­haps a book, and maybe even a movie made about you, such as “The 15: 17 to Paris,” directed by Clint East­wood, adapted for the screen by Dorothy Blyskal.

East­wood de­cided to take a leap and go fur­ther in his bio­graph­i­cal de­pic­tion, cast­ing the ma­jor play­ers as them­selves in this blend of doc­u­men­tary and nar­ra­tive film­mak­ing. It’s a risk that doesn’t quite pay off. While the three friends do have their charms on “Ellen” or a late night talk show, their per­for­mances in the fea­ture film are es­sen­tially an ar­gu­ment for hir­ing pro­fes­sional ac­tors.

How­ever, the am­a­teur per­for­mances aren’t the big­gest prob­lem with “The 15: 17 to Paris.” Af­ter a while, the awk­ward line read­ings fade away, and their nat­u­ral charisma shines. But for an in­ci­dent that took about a minute or two, ex­pand­ing the story to fea­ture length is a stretch, and Blyskal’s script doesn’t know where to fo­cus, and fea­tures eye- roll in­duc­ing, plainly on- the- nose di­a­logue.

The film jumps between short mo­ments be­fore the at­tack and the boys’ up­bring­ing as mis­chievous kids, ob­sessed with guns and war and bond­ing as out­siders at their Chris­tian school. Years later, Spencer joins the Air Force, Alek the Ore­gon Na­tional Guard, and An­thony en­ters col­lege. There are a few care­fully placed scenes il­lus­trat­ing Spencer’s de­sire to save lives, to be a hero, whether train­ing as a medic or think­ing quickly dur­ing an ac­tive shooter alert. He feels as though life is cat­a­pult­ing him to­ward a place he needs to be.

The story could have dived into that hunger for ac­tion and pur­pose, or even what drives some­one to take a huge risk such as he did, tack­ling at­tacker Ay­oub El-Khaz­zani, nar­rowly es­cap­ing death when El- Khaz­zani’s guns jammed. Rather than search­ing for in­ner depth or mean­ing, it’s writ­ten off as fate and the grace of God, while much of the film is spent on shal­low and es­sen­tially mean­ing­less scenes of the guys sight­see­ing around Europe— self­ies, gelato, beer in Ger­many, club­bing in Am­s­ter­dam. They may be play­ing them­selves, but there’s no real cin­e­matic char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment, for the ben­e­fit of the au­di­ence.

The ac­tion se­quence on the train is truly re­mark­able, and East­wood shoots with a doc­u­men­tary- style im­me­di­acy, but the sur­round­ing film — es­pe­cially the script and per­for­mances — doesn’t serve this thrilling true- life story, or the au­di­ence. The cast­ing is an in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ment, but “The 15: 17 To Paris” fails to ever leave the sta­tion.

“The 15: 17 To Paris,” a Warner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG- 13 on ap­peal for bloody im­ages, vi­o­lence, some sug­ges­tive ma­te­rial, drug ref­er­ences and lan­guage. Run­ning time: 94 min­utes. ★★  

“Peter Rab­bit”

Hol­ly­wood stu­dios have re­cently been pil­lag­ing the lit­er­ary canon of beloved chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, dig­ging up fod­der for an­i­mated fea­ture films. The best of these, like the “Padding­ton” movies, suc­cess­fully meld nos­tal­gia with mod­ern and ex­cit­ing film­mak­ing, while the more ques­tion­able ones, like the re­cent “Fer­di­nand” adap­ta­tion, man­age to mud­dle the source ma­te­rial with too many pop songs and dirty jokes. The new “Peter Rab­bit” adap­ta­tion man­ages to land right in the mid­dle — the an­i­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is top- notch, but the gen­tle spirit of Beatrix Pot­ter’s books is sub­sumed into a chaotic, vi­o­lent may­hem, man­i­cally sound­tracked to the day’s hits.

Will Gluck di­rects and cowrote with Rob Lieber this adap­ta­tion of “The Tale of Peter Rab­bit,” the story of naughty rab­bit Peter ( James Cor­den), who can’t help but snack from Mr. McGre­gor’s gar­den. This ver­sion ups the ante sig­nif­i­cantly in the Gar­den Wars, es­pe­cially when Mr. McGre­gor ( Sam Neill) dies, and his fas­tid­i­ous nephew Thomas ( Domh­nall Glee­son) comes to Win­der­mere. Thomas, hop­ing to sell off his un­cle’s prop­erty to fund his own toy shop, finds the “ver­min” have moved in. And in fact, the an­thro­po­mor­phized, clothes- wear­ing wildlife of this coun­try vil­lage have hosted quite the pro­duce- fu­eled rager in the McGre­gor home.

The pho­to­re­al­is­tic an­i­ma­tion by An­i­mal Logic is truly breath­tak­ing, es­pe­cially in the first few mo­ments of the film. The rab­bits are ex­traor­di­nar­ily life­like, with their in­di­vid­ual strands of soft fur and shiny eyes. When Peter hops into the arms of neigh­bor Bea ( Rose Byrne) for a cud­dle, it’s as if she’s hold­ing the ac­tual an­i­mal. Gluck show­cases the an­i­mated crea­tures with ac­tion- packed film­mak­ing fea­tur­ing so­phis­ti­cated cam­era move­ments.

But those whiz- bang track­ing shots are all put in ser­vice of a shock­ingly sav­age and bru­tal war between Peter and his crew ( Flopsy, Mopsy, Cot­ton- Tail, Ben­jamin Bunny) and the fussy Thomas. At first, Peter just wants to get at those sweet, sweet fruits and veg­gies. Then it’s sim­ply a mat­ter of prov­ing he can, and ul­ti­mately, of dis­placed jeal­ousy over Thomas’ bud­ding re­la­tion­ship with Bea, whom Peter sees as a mother ( she’s a ver­sion of a mod­ern­ized Pot­ter, talk­ing to and paint­ing her furry friends).

The imp­ish Peter takes the feud en­tirely too far, and “Peter Rab­bit” de­scends into a truly sadis­tic dis­play of vi­o­lence, as poor Glee­son is pounded, pum­meled, bat­tered, bruised, elec­tro­cuted and ex­ploded at the paws of the bru­tal bun­nies.

There’s a clever lit­tle meta streak that runs through “Peter Rab­bit,” es­pe­cially among the wildlife, who snark and joke and talk about their “char­ac­ter flaws,” make war movie ref­er­ences, and “pour one out” for their fallen homie Mr. McGre­gor, all while bop­ping along to end­less pop and hiphop tunes. There’s a whole es­say to be writ­ten about the cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion of gang­ster rap sym­bols into this oh- so- twee Bri­tish prop­erty, but this is nei­ther the time nor place.

Ul­ti­mately, af­ter the dust has set­tled, the les­son at hand is one of peace­ful co­ex­is­tence with the en­vi­ron­ment. The more you try to shut some­thing out, with gates and fences and dy­na­mite, the more it will try to fight back. There’s also a mes­sage about own­ing your ac­tions and tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity ... even if you are a tiny talk­ing bunny-wear­ing a blue jacket. But when a bunny mis­be­haves like Peter does, apolo­gies are nec­es­sary all around. Per­haps even to the au­di­ence of the film.

“Peter Rab­bit,” a Columbia Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG for some rude hu­mor and ac­tion. Run­ning time: 93 min­utes. ★★ ½


Colin Moody pro­vides the voice of Ben­jamin, left, and James Cor­don the voice of Peter Rab­bit in the Columbia Pic­tures re­lease “Peter Rab­bit.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.