Skip to comments.Clint Eastwood Celebrates Heroes in ‘The 15:17 to Paris’
Posted on 02/10/2018 10:02:44 AM PST by Kaslin
When Clint Eastwoods 2016 drama Sully arrived in theaters, many people thought they knew the story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger. They thought they knew what happened after the heroic pilot safely landed his malfunctioning plane on the Hudson River in 2009. The film showed otherwise. It offered a revealing look back at the media frenzy and investigation that ensued after that January day.
15:17 to Paris, Eastwoods latest feature, tells a more traditional story.
The new drama stars three real-life heroes who helped prevent a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015. Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone play themselves here. The three men were travelling through Europe when they prevented a terrorist from killing hundreds of people.
Early on, the film flashes back to when the boys originally became friends in elementary school. There are scenes showing the youthful Alek and Spencer (played at this age by Bryce Gheisar and William Jennings) befriending the young Anthony (Paul-Mikél Williams). There are also scenes showing them at home and outside playing with toy guns.
These scenes are meant to establish their friendship and their youthful indiscretions they never truly come together to show who these boys really were. When one of the friends moves away, questions about them staying in touch are simply left unanswered.
Instead of answering some of the questions it poses, the screenplay by Dorothy Blyskal (adapted from the book by Skarlatos, Sadler and Spencer) simply rushes forward. There are multiple scenes (such as a discussion about ADD) that seem to suggest certain things but those concepts are never fully explored. Some of these early scenes work independently but never come together.
As the story unfolds, the adult characters appear and these scenes work a bit better in establishing their characters although Anthony isnt as fully appreciated as the other two men. Alek joins the National Guard, where hes stationed in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Spencer loses weight and joins the Air Force (eventually becoming a Staff Sergeant) while still longing for something more.
Eastwoods decision to cast the three heroes was a questionable one (originally, he was planning to hire actors) although the idea was a commendable one. The three actors show potential (especially Alek, who previously competed on Dancing with the Stars). Unfortunately though, there are times when the acting does feel very stilted and forced. However, some of these issues stem from a script that lacks the depth that really wouldve made these characters stand out.
For instance, a scene showing the men interacting with a tour guide who argues that Americans take too much credit for positive events in history feels like overzealous foreshadowing rather than natural storytelling. The actors are stuck in a scene that lacks no real development or importance.
A scene showing Anthony and Spencer talking about the future works a lot better. Life is just pushing us towards something, Spencer says in one of the films quieter and most impactful scenes.
The undeniably best scene comes late in the film and shows the dramatic events on the train unfold. Its here where the heart of the story is and both the actors and Eastwood do a great job in maintaining the necessary intensity. Aside from the three heroes, several of the people who were on the train that day (including the man who was shot and some of the officers who arrived) are portrayed by the real people, which enhances the sequences authenticity. Its scenes like this that really stand out in a movie where so many threads are unexplored.
Its exciting that these heroes are being celebrated cinematically (In fact, I included this trio on a list of real-life heroes whose stories should be brought to the big screen) and the film works well enough for what it is. It just couldve been much better.
This article reminded me that the Sands of Iwo Jima included several actual Marines. Here is the section from Wikipedia.
Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John Bradley, (until 2016, Bradley was incorrectly identified as being a flag-raiser) the three survivors of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who were credited with raising the second flag on Mount Suribachi during the actual battle, appear briefly in the film just prior to the re-enactment. Hayes was also the subject of a film biography, The Outsider, and Bradley the subject of a book by his son James, Flags of Our Fathers.
Also appearing as themselves are 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, who led the flag-raising patrol up Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and helped raise the first flag, Col. David M. Shoup, later Commandant of the Marine Corps and recipient of the Medal of Honor at Tarawa, and Lt. Col. Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, commander of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines at Tarawa, where he earned the U.S. Navy Cross.
These “professional” movie critics wouldn’t know a decent movie if it hit them in the arse! Went to see this movie last night, and, while it was a bit slow at times, the leads did a good job playing what they were, three guys who grew up together and remained friends. Not a classic, but not as bad as this bozo would have you believe.
To contrast this, we went to see “Phantom Thread” a couple weeks ago. The critics LOOOOOOOOVED this movie, said it was Daniel Day-Lewis’ best ever performance, blah, blah, blah. After sitting through 2 1/2 hours of this movie, our assessment was just that: BLAH!
We need more movies like “Sully”, “12 Strong” and “15:18 to Paris” showing real people in places they don’t want or expect to be. And a lot less SJW pablum like the impending “Black Panther” movie looks to be.
Really looking forward to this movie. Especially that the heroes play themselves. I dont care if their acting seems stilted. Their actions on that day should excuse them from any criticism, on anything, forever. I thought Alek was adorable on Dancing with the Stars. This comment is from a grannie : )
Were going to see it Tuesday
We saw this last night and yes...slow for quite a while. But then I realized that it depicting real life and the characteristics that made them who they were that day on the train.
So this is how it is...you’re a fairly normal person with good values just going about your life and suddenly - TERROR. To me the slowness of the beginning really emphasized the importance of their reactions when it mattered most.
True American Heros. Not fake actors - fake script - fake story. I’d watch this anytime compared to all that computerized BS that’s out there now.
Audie Murphy played himself as well.
i love clint, i love USA hero movies, and was primed for a great one.
but folks, the movie is just bad. the acting is awful, the story takes forever to get anywhere.
you have to endure an hour of bad acting, bad dialogue before anything happens.
i couldn’t take it. i left
We saw it yesterday and enjoyed it. The scenes on the train are pretty graphic.
We were subjected to at least 20 minutes of ear shattering previews and one looked as bad as the rest. Clint makes a good, entertaining movie.
On the afternoon of August 21, 2015, on a train headed to Paris from Amsterdam, an Islamic terrorist named Ayoub El Khazzan exited a bathroom with a AKM rifle and 300 rounds of ammunition. The first person to try and stop him was Mark Moogalian, a 51-year-old American-born Frenchman, who wrestled the rifle away from El Khazzan but was shot in the back with a pistol Moogalian did not know the terrorist was carrying.
With his rifle and rounds back in his grasp, El Khazzan made his way to the passenger car. It was here that he met up with three Americans, three lifelong friends enjoying a European excursion together: 23-year-old Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23-year-old Anthony Sadler, and 22-year-old Specialist Alek Skarlatos.
It is the story of the American friends that producer/director Clint Eastwood wants to tell. In fact, the three-time Oscar winner is so interested in these three, he had them play themselves in a $30 million studio film.
If these three young men had taken a home movie camera and in real-time documented their actual lives and what happened that day we would have witnessed a “home” movie that was typically boring except for the train part. It was a brilliant move to have them cast themselves. The story was never about them to begin with.
The truth is I don’t want to be invited to someone’s home movies, which are without failure, dull. If one of these young men invited me. I would have wanted to watch just the action scenes. I’m just a typical guy.
Consequently every single frame is the very opposite of a well-crafted Hollywood movie. But - it’s not a Hollywood movie! It’s a home story like many other American stories, that most of us take for granted.
My only criticism is that when they had the French President presenting those medals, they didn’t change what he actually said. He should have added a couple of other things like we “thank the country that grew these men, the country that breathes freedom”.
Thank you so much!!!
I don’t know if I’m going to see it at all.
The Liberal ending to Gran Torino (the last few minutes when he bent over forward so the criminals could give him the shaft right up his *ss) was such a stunning disappointment to me. It changed my view of Clint Eastwood 180 degrees.
I wish I had never gone.
WTHeck are you talking about?
Here’s the Gran Torino ending....and, I don’t see him bending over....
So true. There is another movie where there would have some interesting side conversations.
I just saw it. I thought it a good story and made me proud to be an American. I can see why the MSM and American hating liberals are panning the movie. I can see this movie is going to do well and be seen by the public and disliked by the critics.
Notice how the critics are BLASTING this patriotic, multi-ethnic tribute, while giving the race-dividing “Black Panther” 100% on RT.
You probably should not have gone. You obviously weren’t paying attention. The Eastwood character was terminally ill and wanted to goad the hoods into killing him in front of witnesses. Maybe you should stick to cartoons.
Buy your tickets in advance online. We went to see this today as a last-minute idea (got there a half hour before showtime) and it was sold out!
Awesome turnout for a great story!
I’m sure that witty statement made you feel far superior to me.