Review: Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris” casts real-life heroes as themselves, surpasses expectations

The official poster for The 15:17 to Paris, featuring Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood. Image source: The 15:17 to Paris official Instagram.

The official poster for “The 15:17 to Paris,” featuring Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood. Image source: “The 15:17 to Paris” official Instagram.

Passengers headed from Amsterdam to Paris on Aug. 21, 2015, had no idea that Ayoub el-Khazzani, an alleged ISIS recruit, was planning to kill all of them. What they also didn’t know was three selfless travelers would thwart this potentially massive terrorist attack and save everyone aboard.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, “The 15:17 to Paris” tells the true story of three men whose heroic actions saved a train full of people whose vehicle was under attack from a man wielding numerous weapons on board. Rather than cast well-known actors, Eastwood took a more unconventional route, opting instead to use the actual members of the brave trio in a story about themselves.

The action-drama film stars Anthony SadlerAlek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone as themselves, two of whom formerly served in the U.S. military. However, audience members will also see recognizable faces in the movie, including Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer, who portray Stone’s and Skarlatos’ mothers respectively. 

Initially, I was uncertain about whether or not the film would be able to carry itself through 94 minutes given that the stars had no prior acting roles. However, after having seen “The 15:17 to Paris,” I can say with confidence that it is worth seeing.

The first two acts of the film consist of a detailed account of the main characters meeting as children and becoming friends over the years, and this arc of the story continues up until their decision to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Europe to celebrate their friendship.

Although the scenes of their backpacking trip through Europe were definitely too drawn-out and slightly redundant, the movie still managed to be entertaining most of the time. I was also impressed by the three men’s on-screen chemistry with each other; they made the film feel real in a way that many other actors cannot do.

Even though they obviously had prior experience with the subject matter since they went through the titular event themselves, it is not an easy feat to naturally have a screen presence right off the bat.

The major disappointing aspect of the movie was that there was an incredible amount of build-up to the event that every audience member came to see, and the tense scene lasted for less than 5 minutes.

Nonetheless, I was still in awe of their valor and selflessness, and after watching “The 15:17 to Paris,” I feel that the scathing reviews from media publications were far too harsh. Despite the fact that it is certainly not an award-winning movie, the concept is so unique and intriguing within itself.

Although it has a slow and slightly awkward beginning, “The 15:17 to Paris” is ultimately an inspiring tale of courage that provides the audience with a memorable viewing experience. Currently, “The 15:17 to Paris” is showing at several local theaters, including iPic Westwood, AMC Century City 15 and AMC Santa Monica 7. It is rated PG-13 for brief violence and some language.

  • Story
  • Acting
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact


“The 15:17 to Paris” is an action-drama film directed by Clint Eastwood. The film stars three actual heroes as themselves.