Amazing heroes. Dreadful film.
Seeing ‘produced and directed by Clint Eastwood’ I expected a gritty, high-quality movie about the heroes who potentially saved so many people on this infamous train ride from Amsterdam to Paris.
Instead, what I saw was a meandering cut-up effort with some leaden dialog, made-for-tv scenes, and shoddy cinematography.
I can’t fault the leads. Apparently played by the real people, they do as good a job as I’ve seen non-actors do. But perhaps the solid anchoring of scenes in reality is part of what makes this such a poor movie? For all it contains, it lacks drama.
Despite the cut-ups to remind you that horrible things are coming you’ll spend most of the movie watching mundane scenes of childhood and growing up. Like many people, these heroes had various challenges growing up. Unachieved goals, difficulties at school, friendship, loss, and disappointments. What makes this different is that there’s a tedious thread suggesting these events are all leading to a special fate. Oh, and that these scenes are played in a surprising non-dramatic way. It makes this less of a cinematic experience and more like an assemblage of endless home video footage.
Despite the serious nature of the movie there are some amusing moments including a fallacious argument between 2 of the boys’ mothers and their elementary school teacher. The teacher justifies her proposal that one boy take ADD medication with some seemingly irrelevant statistic. The mother responds with ‘my god is bigger than your statistics’. Few things are less helpful in dialog than throwing non sequiturs at each other. However, it’s not the last time you’ll hear this kind of thing.
Despite the chaotic and realistic re-enactment of the train scenes and the contrasting events immediately beforehand this is a poor movie to watch. Avoid it at all costs.