The 15:17 to Paris Parent Guide
Although the movie often feels like a pilot for a reality TV series, it does shine a spotlight light on ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Parent Movie Review
Heroic events deserve to make the news but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the makings of a good movie. Sadly, that’s the situation with Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, a retelling of the quick spirited actions of three American men (Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler) after an armed terrorist began shooting on a French train in 2015.
The first problem with creating a film about an actual conflict, that is barely five minutes long, is finding something to fill the other hour and a half of runtime. Ideally, you’d come up with some compelling backstory ideas. Eastwood’s solution is the classic psychiatric question: “Tell me about your childhood.”
The script begins with our three heroes making their way through middle school. Spencer and Alek (William Jennings and Bryce Gheisar) first meet Anthony (Paul-Mikél Williams) while waiting in line at the principal’s office. Becoming best friends, the trio’s favorite subject is history and their best pastimes are tardiness, mouthing off to educators, toilet papering a neighbor’s house and re-enacting war scenarios with toy guns in the woods near their Sacramento homes.
An edit later and they are young adults. (Now Spenser, Alek and Anthony are playing themselves.) Alek enlists in the military and Spencer, after a few rejections at higher level service positions, finds a place within the forces as well. Anthony makes college his first priority.
When Spencer and Alek are both stationed in Europe, the three guys come together for a sightseeing vacation that eventually ends up in Amsterdam. While recovering from a night of clubbing, the hungover pals decide to board a train for Paris. Minutes after leaving the station “the moment"arrives when the passengers are confronted by Ayoub El Khazzani, (played by Ray Corasani), a terrorist who emerges from the restroom with a rifle.
Perhaps it was wrong to feel a sense of “finally” when the pivotal action begins. But, at last, there’s a story to tell (albeit a short one) and Eastwood directs the bloody sequence with finesse. Spenser leads the charge to subdue the attacker and ends up with slashes across his neck and face. Alek and Anthony follow as backup. Moments later Spenser attends to another passenger, (Mark Moogalian also playing himself) who is shot in the neck, and uses his military medical knowledge to save the injured man’s life.
One has a sense that Clint Eastwood is doing his best to avoid using too much artistic license. Yet the truth of the matter is, these are three fairly ordinary guys who did an extraordinary thing. And perhaps that’s where I’m missing the point: Maybe Eastwood intended to bore us with the drivel of middle school antics and traipsing around Europe so that when the pivotal incident arrived we would clearly see that within all “ordinary” people is the potential to rise to exceptional circumstances.
Whether Eastwood is an artistic genius or a rushed director who didn’t anticipate that his movie would feel like a pilot for a reality TV series, is beside the point. The final destination of The 15:17 To Paris illustrates to teen and adult audiences that you don’t have to be someone special to do something that can make a powerful difference.Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release February 9, 2018. Updated February 9, 2018
The 15:17 to Paris
Rating & Content Info
Why is The 15:17 to Paris rated PG-13? The 15:17 to Paris is rated PG-13 by the MPAA (on appeal) for bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references and language.
Beyond the movie ratings: What Parents need to know about…
Violence: Children are disrespectful to adults, bullied by classmates, and treated harshly by school staff. Children play war games with toy guns, and handle an unloaded hunting rifle. A school goes into lock down during an armed intruder threat. Military personnel use pushups to punish disobedience. A medical class practices with a human dummy that has realistic injuries and bloody wounds. Men practice fighting (with hands and weapons) at boot camp. Soldiers stationed overseas scuffle with local residents. People are afraid for their lives when they are threatened by a terrorist with a gun. Civilians wrestle with a gunman: one is shot, another is slashed with a knife. Detailed bloody injuries are shown. Characters hit and subdue (by choking) a dangerous man, then bind his arms and legs.
Sexual Content: Mild sexual references and innuendo are heard. Infrequent embracing and kissing are seen. Shirtless men are shown. Women dress in scanty attire at a club, and dance seductively with men. A clothed woman is seen pole dancing, and later a man tries to poll dance.
Profanity: Frequent use of scatological slang, along with mild and moderate profanity. Infrequent use of terms of deity, crude slang and name-calling. Derogatory remarks are made about single mothers and their children.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters frequently drink alcohol in pubs and at home. Characters drink excessively in a club setting, and suffer hangovers the next morning. One character is seen smoking. Characters discuss the use of medication for children with attention disorders.
Page last updated February 9, 2018
More parents' guide for The 15:17 to Paris after the break...
The 15:17 to Paris Parents' Guide
From a young age, Spenser Stone and Alek Skarlatos are fascinated with war history, arm conflicts and guns. How does this interest influence their later career choices. What personal motivations do they have for joining the military? Do their service duties live up to their expectations of the job? What role does the army play, both in times of war and peace?
When Spenser is contemplating joining the armed forces, he meets with some skepticism from Anthony. What does his friend mean when he says, "It's not that we don’t think you can do it, it is just that we don't think you will." Have you ever set goals, and then not follow through? What does it take to reach difficult goals? What does Spenser's trainer say about doing hard things? Would his speech motivate you?
News About "The 15:17 to Paris"
Spencer Stone (a U.S. Airman) and Alek Skarlatos (a National Guardsman) and Anthony Sadler (A senior college student) were just three friends on vacation in Europe when the unimaginable happened. On August 21, 2015, while taking the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris, the trio crossed paths with an armed man.
Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan, was first spotted as a threat when he emerged from the train’s restroom shirtless and carrying an assault rifle. Bystanders Mark Moogalian (an American-born Frenchman) and another unidentified Frenchman, attempted to stop him, but the heavily armed assailant was not deterred. (Moogalian was shot and suffered serious injuries.)
Next, the perpetrator turned his attention to the other passengers on board. And for one brief moment, he fumbled with his gun.
Instinctively, Stone and Skarlatos put their military training into action. The pair, tackled El Khazzani. During the ensuing struggle, their buddy Sadler and a British passenger named Chris Norman came to their aid. Despite the danger, and even though they sustained some injuries (Stone especially), the shooter was subdued.
Theses brave men were later honored by government officials as heroes.
This movie re-enacts the events of that fateful encounter. But what is most unusual thing about the film is that Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler play themselves. Clint Eastwood directs this production which is titled The 15:17 to Paris.