Three films about…trains: The 15:17 to Paris (2018), The Commuter (2018) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Barnaby Page
5 min readJun 3

Why am I writing about these movies now?

Well, I’m moving my back catalogue of movie (and occasionally TV) reviews from another site to Medium — covering many of the best-known releases of the last decade, as well as more obscure fare. To make it a bit more fun, I’ll be grouping them thematically (as here), but unless I spot actual errors I’m not doing any editing…so my opinion may have changed since I first wrote them!

My reviews of new cinema, streaming and disc releases, as well as retrospectives on old (and not-so-old) classics, will mostly continue to appear on the Medium publication Frame Rated.

Anyway, here goes. Enjoy…

The 15:17 to Paris

Another patriotic exercise from Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris is peculiarly pointless and impactful at the same time, thanks largely to its unconventional style and even more unconventional casting.

In this true story of the 2015 Thalys train attack in France, the lead roles are played not by actors, but by the three young American tourists who the film follows from childhood up to their involvement in the (supposed) terrorist rampage.

The question is whether there is a purpose to this, or to Eastwood’s unusually unstructured directorial approach, or whether it’s just a gimmick, perhaps a celebratory or even hero-worshipping one.

The movie is certainly compelling in a loose, meandering way, with lengthy mundanity, naturalistic dialogue and random characters wandering in and out; and the three guys (especially Spencer Stone) take to the screen like naturals.

But what is Eastwood trying to say here: that the kind of American kids us snooty Euros are prone to snigger at (befuddled on the basics of history, more interested in selfie sticks than old-world culture) can be heroic? Or just, generally, that ordinary people can be exceptional? But didn’t we know all that already?

Or is he simply trying to show us, accurately, as a fictionalised documentary, what the boys were like and what happened? This is a credible reading of the movie — there are odd incidents (like the…

Barnaby Page

Barnaby is a journalist based in Suffolk, UK. By day he covers science and public policy; by night, film and classical music. He has also been a cinema manager.