But from a dramatic standpoint, it's a role of the dice, and more often than not, their acting inexperience shows, even if playing themselves.
A lawyer for the accused gunman in a 2015 terrorist attack aboard a Paris-bound train is asking to halt the release of a new Clint Eastwood film depicting how three American tourists thwart the assault.
For the men, it was the experience of a lifetime, re-tracing their trip across Europe with a film budget behind them, seeing all the sights they hadn't seen the first time around and getting to hang around Eastwood. "What makes a person just jump up and run at somebody who has a very reliable weapon pointed at them?" "We were a little hesitant". As they philosophize while taking selfies and plot their next party, a Richard Linklater film is nearly at risk of breaking out. "I'll tell you what I think'". "I didn't want to make it look like guys were hanging from the bottom of a train and doing insane things", Eastwood said.
Eastwood, who's heading toward 90, has seen it all before, starring as the "Man with No Name" in Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, then making his own westerns ("Unforgiven") and other films with subject matter ranging from the afterlife ("Hereafter") to female boxing ("Million Dollar Baby") and the end of Apartheid-cum-rugby ("Invictus"), as well as engaging in jingoistic flag waving, as many said of his depiction of American marksman Chris Kyle in "American Sniper" (2015) or his appearance at the Republican National Convention to help presidential candidate Mitt Romney challenge Barrack Obama, talking to that now infamous "empty chair".
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A lawyer for the man suspected to be behind the attack, Ayoub El-Khazzani, said the movie presented a "fictionalised" and "one-sided" account of the incident, the BBC reports.
Once Stone and Sadler head to Europe - when we first meet Skarlatos as a grown-up, he's already serving in the military in Afghanistan, then heads to Germany on leave to explore his family history - we simply...spend time with them, hanging out in Europe.
Eastwood also brought in Mark Moogalian, the first man who tried to take down El-Khazzani and was shot in the neck, to play himself in the film.
Blyskal's script displays no ear for free-flowing, believable banter except for one throwaway scene when the friends publicly challenge a Berlin tour guide's commentary, arguing that the arrival of U.S. troops was a deciding factor in Hitler's demise. "We weren't thinking about much except for the current situation at hand, and we just knew something had to be done".
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Their heroics saw them inducted into the French Legion of Honour as knights and feted by then US president Barack Obama.
Like many films of this genre, the action aboard the train could easily have dominated the film. But when it came to re-enacting the actual action that took place on the train, the men discovered facts about the case that they had not known before regarding other passengers' points of view. In one scene, Stone video chats with Sadler, who appears to be in a college dorm - the only indication of his life after high school.
Sadler said it was like a reunion, while Skarlatos said it felt like closure. The middle chunk of the film is a lot like this: we watch Stone and Sadler gallivant through Italy, Germany, and Amsterdam.
"As they tick off all those European cities on the countdown to the 15:17, Spencer keeps portentously saying that he feels he was put on earth for a higher goal", the Daily Mail's Brian Viner wrote.
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In 2016 Eastwood gave us Sully, the superbly executed story of a hero recreated by Hollywood professionals but in 2018, he gives us Sullied, the poorly executed story of three heroes that makes Hallmark movies look like potential award nominees. "We would go work out with him afterwards, have a beer".