I don't understand the critics on this one
As I'm sure many of you have seen, this film is currently sitting at a 20% Rotten Tomatoes score.
For me, the bottom line here is that I thought this was one of the most interesting films that I've seen in a long time.
Knowing that the real-life guys were untrained actors and played themselves in the movie, I said that I would be able to come to terms with the performances as long as I could get C-level performances out of these guys and I felt like I got that. The dude you see in the trailers with the shaved head really is the lead in the movie--he gets the most screentime and apparently he was the one in real life who both initiated the attack against the terrorist and finished the guy--and, while I wouldn't go so far as to call him "pretty good" in terms of his performance I at least feel comfortable in saying that he was "not bad."
I thought his performance felt fairly natural. The other two guys were a bit more wooden, but not to the extent that I really thought it was a problem. The fact that I knew I was watching the actual guys--these were THE guys who did the shit--really made the movie a lot more interesting to me than it otherwise would've been and having now seen the movie I think that Clint made an inspired decision to cast them.
As many reviewers have mentioned, the actual attack on the train is brief. We probably spend 15 to 20 minutes total on the train with the attack comprising just a few of those minutes. The rest of the time on the train is either build up or aftermath.
Clint chooses to start from the ground up, initially exploring these guys' childhood and how they met and how then two of them joined the military. Then it turns into something of a travelogue as we just hang out with these guys and get to know them more as they travel around Europe, and then finally we get the attack on the train.
I'm not sure why it is that the critics decided to attack this one. It may be that there are strong, overt religious and political themes undergirding the story. As we know, most critics tend to lean left, and I can't help but think that some personal bias may be coming into play here. I suppose one needs not specifically be against these things to dislike this film--one could simply be disinterested entirely--but like I said, I found the movie to be a very interesting and ultimately emotional experience.
I enjoyed it and feel bad for the real-life guys who made this movie, gave it their all, and had their story told, only for the film to be ripped apart and talked down to. I'm going to give it an 8/10.