Clint Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris” Barges into Theaters

The latest Clint Eastwood blockbuster, a reconstitution of the 2015 attack on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris, will be in U.S. theaters on February 9, 2018 (and on February 7 in France).

On August 21, 2015, a 25-year-old Moroccan man named Ayoub El Khazzani opened fire with a Kalashnikov on the Thalys train N°9364 traveling from Amsterdam to Paris with 554 passengers aboard. The would-be attacker’s gun jammed, and several travelers seized the opportunity to overpower him. Three Americans (including two off-duty soldiers) were among the heroes who prevented a potential bloodbath. Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone all received the Légion d’Honneur.

These same three Americans are now on the bill of Clint Eastwood’s 36th movie, in which they play themselves. The screenplay is adapted from the book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes, cowritten by journalist Jeffrey E. Stern and the three young men. Anthony Sadler, a kinesiology student, Alek Skarlatos, a Specialist in the Oregon National Guard, and Spencer Stone, a U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant, were originally supposed to be played by professional actors. But the director changed his mind. “I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s give it a try,’” he said to the website Extra. “They said, ‘Do you think we should be taking acting classes?’ and I said, ‘No, maybe not.’”

Following on from American Sniper, a portrayal of the life of renowned sharpshooter Chris Kyle, and Sully, which offered a nail-biting reproduction of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Clint Eastwood is back with another testosterone-fueled tale of the valiant everyman. These movies about “real-life heroes” have become a whole genre, laments British newspaper The Guardian. They often fall flat, stumbling on their macho approach and simplistic vision of events. And it seems The 15:17 to Paris is no exception.

However, a sizeable part of the movie was filmed in France, at the Arras train station where the train was diverted following the attack, and in Paris. Charles de Gaulle airport, the Gare du Nord, the Elysée Palace, the Hôtel de Marigny, and several streets in the north-east of Paris make on-screen appearances. French actor Patrick Bradoué plays President François Hollande, who presented the three Americans with the Légion d’Honneur for their acts of bravery.