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Review: The 15:17 to Paris

Review: The 15:17 to Paris screenshot

It’s important to begin this review by acknowledging the incredible heroism displayed and embodied by Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler. What they did on August 21, 2015, thwarting a terrorist attach on a French passenger train, is the sort of stuff that restores and augments faith in humanity. It’s a story that deserves to be told. When Clint Eastwood decided to cast the three Americans as themselves in the film, it set a tone of recognition, but also of realism that was, likely, acted upon to such a degree that it may hurt the movie going experience for some viewers. 

Is it an experiment to cast non-actors in a major Hollywood production? Yes. Is it unprecedented? No. However, in addressing an incident like this, it’s only possible for a couple of reasons: first, the event occurred less than 3 years ago, meaning that the stars haven’t aged or changed very much, so it’s plausible casting. And second, no one was fatally injured during the attack. Because it’s a triumph of heroism — an averted tragedy rather than a tragedy — the filmmakers were able to turn it into a fictional portrayal nearly immediately, thus allowing those who were there to play themselves. In this sense, The 15:17 to Paris is a film unto itself.

Whatever faults are leveled at the movie have little to do with the heroes whose life stories it’s based on.

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