The 15:17 to Paris
|The 15:17 to Paris|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Screenplay by||Dorothy Blyskal|
The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes|
by Jeffrey E. Stern
|Edited by||Blu Murray|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$57.1 million|
The 15:17 to Paris is a 2018 American biographical drama film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Dorothy Blyskal, based on the autobiography The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. The film stars Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos as themselves and follows the trio as they stop the 2015 Thalys train attack; Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer also star.
The 15:17 to Paris was released in the United States on February 9, 2018, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics, who called it "well-intentioned" but "strained to wring a full-length feature's worth of drama out of [an event] that was over in a few minutes", and grossed $57 million worldwide against a production budget of $30 million.
Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos are attending a suburban Christian middle school. They bond over their interest in guns, and are often sent to the principal's office for disciplinary action. Once, while sent to the principal's office, they meet another student, who often misbehaves in school, Anthony Sadler, and the three become friends. Spencer and Alek are from single mother homes, and their mothers often stick up for them when called to the principal's office regarding their misconduct.
While working part time at a smoothie shop, Spencer waits on a recruiter for the United States Marine Corps. He asks the recruiter what military branch he would select if he could go back. The recruiter replies that the Air Force pararescue save lives and "seem to being doing fine work in the field." Spencer is intrigued and decides that he wants to join up. So he begins working out to lose some extra weight. After several months of rigorous training and exercise, he gets into much better shape and enlists in the Air Force in hopes of becoming a Pararescueman.
Upon completing basic training, Spencer takes his exams to qualify for pararescue school. But having poor depth perception, he is turned down. Upset, he chooses from the other Air Force options left to him, and is soon stationed abroad. His friend, Alek, enlisted in the Army, and has been deployed to Afghanistan. On Skype, Alek tells him that he is planning to visit his girlfriend in Germany, and the two decide to rendezvous there for their next leave. Spencer skypes Anthony, now a college student, and talks him into coming to Europe for a vacation. After meeting in Germany, the three decide to go to Amsterdam. After a few days, they finally decide that it's time to visit France. They depart from Amsterdam Centraal station on the 15:17 train to Paris.
On the train, all seems well, until American-born Frenchman Mark Moogalian notices that one of the toilets has been occupied for an unusually long time. When Moogalian goes to investigate, a terrorist bursts out with an assault rifle. Another passenger, Damien A., grabs the terrorist by the neck and Moogalian manages to wrest the assault rifle from the terrorist but is then shot in the back with a 9mm pistol. Passengers begin to flee out of their seats and rush toward the forward cabins of the train, trying to escape. Using a pistol, the terrorist shoots the passenger who took his rifle. Eventually, the terrorist approaches the next car, where Spencer and his friends are sitting. The moment Spencer sees him, he springs into action. He decides that his only hope, and the only hope of the remaining passengers, is for him to try to defeat the terrorist. Spencer makes a desperate all-out sprint toward the terrorist in the hope of subduing him before being shot. By remarkable luck, the terrorist's weapon jams just as he is about to fire, and he is tackled by Spencer, who successfully disarms the terrorist of his weapon. Seeing Spencer's progress in subduing the terrorist, Alek, Anthony, and other passengers join the effort to try to further overwhelm the terrorist, finally knocking him out. Spencer Stone then stanches the bleeding by plugging the exit wound in Moogalian's neck with his fingers. The police at the next station enter the train fully armed, discovering that Spencer has subdued the terrorist, and they begin to treat his wounds, and the more serious ones of the shot passenger. Paramedics take Moogalian to the emergency room at a local hospital and he survives.
In a formal ceremony, Spencer, Alek and Anthony are recognized as heroes of the French Republic for their gallantry and bravery. The terrorist was later discovered to have been armed with over 300 rounds of ammunition with the apparent aim of using all of it to wreak havoc on all those who boarded the train. The odds of the particular misfire and jam of the cartridge in the terrorist's weapon was estimated on the scene as being over a thousand-to-one, and highly unlikely to have been in Spencer's favor. French officials at the ceremony to honor Spencer's selfless act acknowledge his bravery and he is awarded the French Legion of Honour in recognition of his act of courage. On September 22, 2015, Mark Moogalian was awarded the Legion of Honor by President François Hollande for his actions on the train.
- Spencer Stone as himself
- Anthony Sadler as himself
- Alek Skarlatos as himself
- Mark Moogalian as himself
- Isabelle Risacher Moogalian as herself
- Judy Greer as Joyce Eskel, Spencer’s mother
- Jenna Fischer as Heidi Skarlatos, Alek’s mother
- Ray Corasani as Ayoub El-Khazzani
- Chris Norman as himself
- P. J. Byrne as Mr. Henry
- Sinqua Walls as Marine
- Tony Hale as Coach Murray
- Thomas Lennon as Principal Michael Akers
- Jaleel White as Garrett Walden
Additionally, Paul-Mikel Williams, Max Ivutin, Bryce Gheisar, Cole Eichenberger, and William Jennings portray younger versions of Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos.
On April 20, 2017, it was announced that Clint Eastwood would next direct The 15:17 to Paris from a screenplay by newcomer screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal based on the book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes. It was announced that Eastwood would begin casting immediately for a principal production start date of later that year. On June 21, 2017, it was announced that Eastwood had chosen Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig to star as Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone although offers had not yet been made.
On July 11, 2017, it was announced that Eastwood had cast Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone as themselves in the film which will "begin during their childhood and show their friendship leading up to the moment that changed their lives". It was also announced that the film had commenced principal production. On July 13, 2017, Tony Hale and Thomas Lennon joined the cast as staff members of a school the lead three men attended as children. On August 1, 2017, Sinqua Walls was cast in the film for an unspecified role. Mark Moogalian and Isabelle Risacher Moogalian were also cast as themselves in the film.
The film was released in the United States on February 9, 2018. The film was originally rated R by the MPAA for a sequence of violence and bloody images, but received a PG-13 rating upon appeal.
The 15:17 to Paris grossed $36.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $20.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $56.9 million, against a production budget of $30 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed, and was projected to gross $10–15 million from 3,042 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up making $12.6 million, finishing third at the box office behind its two fellow releases. The film dropped 40% in its second weekend to $7.6 million ($8.9 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend), finishing fifth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 24% based on 144 reviews, and an average rating of 4.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The 15:17 to Paris pays clumsily well-intentioned tribute to an act of heroism, but by casting the real-life individuals involved, director Clint Eastwood fatally undermines his own efforts." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Writing for Showbiz411, Roger Friedman acknowledged the film's attempts to be different by casting the real-life men and said, "If there’s a problem with 15:17 it’s that it’s almost filmed like cinéma vérité, certainly as the story unfolds. There’s a lot of exposition and it seems slow. Again, a little patience wouldn’t hurt anyone. Because when the kids’ backstories switch to the main guys, Eastwood finds a groove. Forgive him if the entry seems clunky." Similarly, A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review and wrote, "But [Eastwood's] workmanlike absorption in the task at hand is precisely what makes this movie fascinating as well as moving. Its radical plainness is tinged with mystery." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film two out of four stars, stating that "[a] good 70% of [The 15:17 to Paris] is inert, its affable nothingness redeemed only by the laid-back charisma of three men", although he praised the film's "poker-faced sincerity" and the "superb" climactic train scene.
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