Back in 2015, three Americans, one Brit, and two French nationals successfully subdued a terrorist before anyone was killed. These few minutes in which the attack took place cemented themselves as heroes. The attack last only a few minutes, and whilst the subject is an honourable one, it seems strange that a whole feature film would be dedicated to this short event.
This is why director Clint Eastwood starts his story way back when the three Americans heroes were children. Quite why Eastwood felt this was enough to make a feature film, I don’t know. There is nothing remarkable about these kids and I garnered nothing from it apart from knowing their parents were religious wackos who believe their unseen God was more important than statistics, facts and evidence.
The problem is compounded by the child actors not being particularly strong actors, and Clint Eastwood’s somewhat clunky framing of scenes highlights the less than strong child performances even further. Things aren’t much better when they become adults as the three Americans are played by the real-life heroes. They aren’t great actors either, and much like their childhood their adult life isn’t anything extraordinary (up until they foiled the terrorist), but they seem likeable and fun enough for their company to be rather pleasant and enjoyable.
The film does suffer from feeling quite clunky, the scenes telling us of the three Americans’ backgrounds is occasionally interrupted by scenes from the train (affects the pace), and the film randomly jumps from scene to scene without much cohesion. Yet, the attack itself, taking place over 10 breathless minutes, shows Clint Eastwood’s prowess as a director, and the moments directly leading up to the attack are very tense.