Terror in Paris on the big screen

Actual Heroes—Alek Skarlatos (left), Anthony Sadler (center), and Spencer Stone (right) all played themselves throughout most of the film where the three made their big screen debut. Courtesy of Comingsoon.net

By Andrew Ayala

Fearlessness and compassion are two of the many characteristics and qualities that are brought onto the big screen and into the light in Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris.”

The 15:17 to Paris is based on a true story, in which three childhood friends faced terrorism in a foreign country during vacation.

On August 25, 2015 Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler were riding on a Thalys train headed toward the French capital when Ayoub El Khazzani attempted a terrorist attack on the passengers.

Despite the fact that he was armed with a knife, an assault rifle, a sidearm, and a backpack carrying nearly 300 rounds of ammunition, El Khazzani was  stopped and taken down by these three brave American men.

The main cast includes Skarlatos, Sadler, and Stone playing themselves and a few other actors and actresses have played minor roles.

Despite not being professional actors, it adds to the realness and quality of the film being based on a true story.

Since moviegoers are used to seeing big names playing major roles, it was refreshing and interesting to see a nonprofessional cast pull off such an amazing feat.

A few aspects of the film that were different included the cinematic style, the scenes, and the locations they chose to film.

The cinematicw style was interesting because toward the beginning of the film there are certain flash forwards that give the audience bits and pieces of what is to come.

The scenes served some value and were important in their own way. Scenes such as Stone’s training, or things his mother said all relate and come back during the climax.

Regardless of them being minor, all the pieces can be put together  throughout the movie to create a bigger impact at the end.

The locations were beautiful since most were shot in Europe as opposed to being made on a set.

Another quality that stood out of the film was its simplicity and minimalism. The acting and dialogue chosen is natural and at times it seems awkward to see that on the big screen.

Nonetheless, the fact that it is stripped of some of the pizzazz that make a Hollywood film, yet it can still convey more than one      message to the audience makes it worthwhile for viewers.

The story begins by giving us an introduction to the protagonists as children in their hometown of Sacramento, which is where they all met and where we meet them, played by Cole Eichenberger (Spencer Stone), Paul-Mikel Williams (Anthony Sadler), and Bryce Gheisar (Alek Skarlatos).

As the boys begin to build a bond and rebel with one another, issues arise which cause them to sort of separate or drift apart.

In the future, the protagonists reconnect for a trip they planned to take to Europe while on leave and break.

Throughout the film, viewers get the closest to Stone and get to see how he grows and changes both mentally and physically.

Before the incident, he brings up being catapulted to some destiny.

This begins to make one think that maybe he had premonitions of something important about to happen in his life.

It doesn’t get much deeper than that but as moviegoers watch they may realize that maybe everything does happen for a reason or certain thoughts come into our heads for a reason.

Spencer always had a sense of not belonging, but as the film plays out it is noticeable that it is our failures that we learn and grow from.

As mentioned before the audience doesn’t get too personal with any of the main characters, but can notice and wonder about the pain in Skarlatos’ eyes, the uncertainty of Stone’s mind and the skepticism of Sadler’s thoughts.

That is what brings on such a real and intimate film since it seems as if they were filming their everyday lives.

The emotion, the suspense, the pain and the joy can all be felt and captivated as a result of this style. At the end of “The 15:17 to Paris”, a speech by former President François Hollande of France shows just how amazing this action of valor truly was.

Along with receiving one of the highest Medals of Honor that anyone can receive in France, the men were welcomed home with a parade in their hometown of Sacramento where warm smiles and happy faces greeted and thanked their hometown heroes.

“The 15:17 to Paris” is rated PG-13 for bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references and language.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *