15:17 to Paris, The (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 23-May-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-The 15:17 to Paris: Making Every Second Count (8:11)
Featurette-The 15:17 to Paris: Portrait of Courage (12:27)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 93:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Spencer Stone
Alek Skarlatos
Anthony Sadler
Judy Greer
Jenna Fischer
Ray Corasani
Thomas Lennon
P.J. Byrne
Tony Hale
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Christian Jacob


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Portuguese
Arabic
Cantonese
Czech
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Korean
Mandarin
Polish
Romanian
Russian
Thai
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Archival footage during credits

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Plot Synopsis

†††† 2018ís The 15:17 to Paris is perhaps the first outright critical bomb for veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood. Although the movie earned passable if unspectacular box office numbers, critics and audiences were unkind to Eastwoodís latest directorial undertaking, despite its good intentions. Like the top-notch Sully, Eastwoodís The 15:17 to Paris involves seemingly ordinary American citizens stepping up at a crucial moment. Based on the novel of the same name by Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and journalist Jeffrey E. Stern, the subject matter here is the foiled 2015 Thalys train attack, and the movieís main gimmick is that the three heroes play themselves. Even though the flick falls short of its potential due to problematic scripting and performances, it is arguably undeserving of the overzealous slating it received. In Eastwoodís capable hands, The 15:17 to Paris is an easily watchable drama, eschewing unnecessary darkness and grittiness, which is rare in modern cinema.

†††† In 2015, Islamic extremist Ayoub El Khazzani (Ray Corasani) tried to open fire on a crowded passenger train with an assault rifle, a pistol, and over 300 rounds of ammunition. However, the attempted mass shooting was thwarted by childhood friends Spencer, Alek, and Anthony, who bravely subdued Ayoub and saved hundreds of lives in the process. Spencer, Alek, and Anthony were friends since childhood, when they met in Catholic school and bonded over a mutual fondness for war games and all things military. Although the boys are separated as a result of behavioural issues, they maintain their friendship into adulthood, with both Spencer and Alek pursuing their childhood dream of serving in the American Military. After years spent apart, the three men decide upon a long overdue European vacation, during which they encounter Ayoub on a train bound for Paris from Amsterdam.

†††† Eastwoodís previous picture, Sully, was likewise concerned with a single event, but its runtime was used to explore the aftermath and ramifications, while replaying the incident from different perspectives. The 15:17 to Paris, on the other hand, spends its runtime delving into the lives of the three men leading up to the terrorist act, wrapping up right after the events on the train. Itís a bizarre angle to adopt, painting the men as out-and-out heroes, refusing to explore any legal ramifications or even how their lives changed. As a result, the script by first-time screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal spends the majority of its time exploring the lives of these three individuals, intercut with minor snippets of the train attack throughout. The biographical narrative might be true-to-life, but their lives are distinctly ordinary, making for a completely unremarkable first half devoid of compelling drama. Admittedly, this is likely the point since Eastwood is showing that these heroes lived regular lives leading up until the critical event, but this material is not a strong enough basis for a feature film.

†††† Easily the weakest segment of the movie is the European trip itself, observing Spencer, Alek and Anthony indulge in tourist activities in Italy, Germany and Amsterdam. The attempt to further the sense of camaraderie is justifiable given that it denotes the reunion of these three men, but their interactions ultimately come off as repetitive, and the proceedings seriously drag because the trio do nothing of interest. Particularly egregious moments include ordering gelato, arguing with a German tour guide, and playing with selfie sticks. Added to this, dialogue is never a strong suit of Blyskalís screenplay - on-the-nose lines, such as Spencer asking Anthony if he feels as if life is catapulting them towards a greater purpose, feel obvious and awkward. In addition, the movie bafflingly begins with pointless, awkward voiceover narration delivered by Anthony, which commences the proceedings on a peculiar note. Nevertheless, despite the pictureís copious shortcomings, Eastwood just manages to keep the material afloat, which is a testament to the veteran directorís talent. The recreation of the thwarted train attack represents the movieís centrepiece, and it is noticeably good. Shot on a moving train (reportedly the actual train on which the events took place), the set-piece is taut and nail-biting, with smooth mise-en-scŤne and a slick technical presentation. Additionally, the low-key piano score throughout the movie by Sully composer Christian Jacob (replicating Eastwoodís trademark scores) is effective and pleasant enough.

†††† Try as they might, the central trio are not exactly actors, and their performances are unpolished as a consequence. Eastwood is renowned for his single-take approach to directing, which would explain the occasional moments of outright awful acting that should not have made it into the final cut. Certain scenes and moments fare better than others, but line readings are frequently stilted and the men often seem aware of the camera. To Eastwoodís credit, using the real-life people at least allowed editor Blu Murray (Sully) to insert authentic archival footage of the formal ceremony honouring the three men in Paris, furthering the sense of verisimilitude. But this is not worth sacrificing the inclusion of actual trained actors, who could have elevated the drama. In addition to Spencer, Alek and Anthony, train survivors Mark Moogalian and Isabelle Risacher Moogalian also play themselves. Meanwhile, the supporting cast is noticeably peculiar, with likewise unrefined performances from more recognisable actors like Judy Greer (Ant-Man), Jenna Fischer (The Office) and even Thomas Lennon (Santa Clarita Diet). Surely there is no shortage of able dramatic actors at Eastwoodís disposal?

†††† All things considered, The 15:17 to Paris is a lower-tier Eastwood movie, in the same class as films like J. Edgar and Hereafter. Itís certainly no Mystic River or Gran Torino. One can understand what attracted Eastwood to the story, and the movie is enjoyable enough once the director gets into an agreeable groove, but itís hard to overlook the erroneously-framed narrative. Perhaps a docudrama with Spencer, Alek and Anthony playing themselves (intercut with interviews and narration) would have been more successful, but The 15:17 to Paris is an adequate curiosity nevertheless, and Eastwood completists should seek it out. For those interested, additional archival footage is included during the end credits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras and completed at 2K as opposed to 4K, The 15:17 to Paris played in select cinemas with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range during its theatrical run, and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release was initially planned overseas. However, with the movie's abysmal critical response and the so-so box office returns, Eastwood's latest movie only debuts on regular old Blu-ray (and DVD). Hell, the movie is not even currently available to stream with HDR in Australia. For this Blu-ray release, Eastwood's latest is presented in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Bizarrely, Roadshow/Warner Bros. make use of a dual-layered BD-50 for The 15:17 to Paris, but - as per usual - they refuse to fill it to full capacity. In fact, the move is only permitted an inadequate video bitrate averaging at under 24 Mbps, leaving over 20GB of unused disc space. Low bitrates are nothing new for Roadshow/Warner Bros., but usually there's a 4K option to compensate and, unfortunately, this is not the case with The 15:17 to Paris.

†††† For the most part, despite the compression, this is a pleasant-looking transfer which more or less held up when upscaled on my 65" 4K television. Sharpness is more than adequate, with frequently solid object delineation no matter the environment or lighting conditions. Fine detail is strictly adequate, though the transfer fares best during close-ups when facial intricacies and clothing textures are pleasing. Detail does struggle a tad under lower light of course, which is the result of the compression, the limitations of 1080p, and the absence of HDR. Understandably, archival footage used at the end of the movie (and during the end credits) looks rough compared to the polished film footage, but that's not the fault of the Blu-ray encode. Colours, meanwhile, are naturalistic, and look unchanged compared to what I recall seeing at the cinema during its short-lived theatrical run back in February. Skin tones are accurate, greenery looks eye-catching when the boys play with their BB guns outside, and the European locales are colourful. Blacks, too, are deep enough for a 1080p transfer, though again HDR could have subtly improved things.

†††† Despite the strengths of the presentation, it lacks precision, looking closer to an online stream than a physical disc. Although textures are palpable, the image looks too smooth, lacking a definitive pop of fine detail that the best Blu-ray presentations are capable of, and highlights are hit-and-miss. Indeed, the movie looked more textured at the cinema, with a fine layer of source noise that appears to be eliminated here. This could be the result of digital noise reduction or simply poor encoding, but it's yet another case of Roadshow/Warner Bros. dropping the ball by refusing to fill the disc to capacity, and it's getting frustrating. Other recent Warner Bros. Blu-ray releases like Father Figures and CHiPS showed what was possible with higher bitrates and, in 2018, such mastering should be standard operating procedure by now since Blu-ray is meant to be the best possible audio-visual experience. However, at least I never detected any bothersome encoding artefacts like aliasing, crush or macroblocking. On balance, the presentation is fine, but especially in the absence of a 4K release for this title, it should be better.

†††† Roadshow's disc contains a variety of subtitle options, including several European and Asian tracks. I had no issues with the English subtitle track, which is well-formatted and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† News is thankfully better about the accompanying Dolby Atmos mix on this Blu-ray, which defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track on equipment that does not support Atmos. Like all of Warner Bros./Roadshow's recent new releases, the disc also contains a totally redundant lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (which is even 16-bit as opposed to 24-bit). Bafflingly, once again for Roadshow/Warner Bros., the disc defaults to the 5.1 mix no matter your set-up, so be sure to select Atmos from the main menu before starting the movie if you prefer Atmos and have the necessary equipment. For those interested, the disc also contains lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Czech, Polish and Russian. I was primarily concerned with the Dolby Atmos mix for the purposes of this review.

†††† The broad strokes of the Atmos track are fine. Dialogue is clean and easy to comprehend. Lines of dialogue are occasionally mixed a bit low, but background noise isn't overpowering in these instances and the chatter is still clear. The subwoofer certainly roars to life during the train attack set-piece, with the single instance of gunfire making a real impact while punches, kicks and stabs are appropriately accentuated. The 15:17 to Paris is not exactly the type of movie which screams out for Atmos given that it's predominantly dialogue-driven, but the surround channels are put to wise use to deliver ambience (noticeable on European streets) and Christian Jacob's gentle piano score. It's certainly better that the movie was mixed in Atmos and the track is included on the disc, to please the discerning audiophiles. In addition, the track is welcomely free of bothersome encoding issues; I didn't notice any pops, clicks, drop-outs, hissing or sync issues.

†††† I did sample the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix upon first viewing the Blu-ray, forgetting about Warner Bros./Roadshow's tendency to default to the inferior mix as opposed to the Atmos, and found it to be perfectly serviceable if lacking a bit of oomph and richness. The Atmos track is still preferable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† A measly two featurettes, with a combined runtime of twenty minutes. Eastwood movies never receive much in the way of supplements, so I guess this is expected.

The 15:17 to Paris: Making Every Second Count (HD; 8:11)

†††† This first featurette is solely concerned on the event itself. Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos, as well as survivors (who play themselves in the movie) Mark Moogalian and Isabelle Risacher Moogalian recount the event, going through what happened step-by-step, intercut with clips from the movie to illustrate what happened. There are brief reflections, but on the whole this is a fairly disposable featurette.

The 15:17 to Paris: Portrait of Courage (HD; 12:27)

†††† A more traditional behind-the-scenes featurette, this extra traces the development of the movie, from the writing and casting all the way through to filming. Eastwood goes over his decision to cast the trio as themselves, and the cast and crew talk about shooting on a moving train as opposed to using green screen. This is a worthwhile featurette.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Aside from differing language options, all editions worldwide are identical.

Summary

†††† I'm in the minority that enjoyed The 15:17 to Paris, and I feel that the movie deserves more credit than it's getting. It has its issues, certainly, but Eastwood's latest is worth watching nevertheless.

†††† Much like the movie, Roadshow's Blu-ray has its drawbacks. The compressed video presentation is watchable but imperfect, though the Dolby Atmos mix is borderline flawless considering the modest source. Meanwhile, there are only twenty minutes of video extras on the disc, which feels like a missed opportunity. The disc is probably worth owning at sale price, but this is definitely a try before you buy situation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, July 06, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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