The 15:17 to Paris: Bringing Personality Back to Hollywood


By: Blake Nall

Genuine. The 15:17 to Paris by legendary director Clint Eastwood can be summed up with that one word. Eastwood uses the big screen to tell the story of American heroes Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler with a twist: substituting overrated actors for the real men and their true reactions. While the title is derived from the short terrorist attack on a train and the heroism demonstrated by the men in this crisis, the bulk of the film is in the backstory.

The film begins light-heartedly, opening on Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler cruising together with Sadler narrating over the footage, describing how deep their friendship has been for many years.

Spencer Stone (left) and Alek Skarlatos (right) discussing the alluring looks of their train attendant. Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Eastwood wasted no time introducing conflict between teachers and the single mothers of Skarlatos and Stone and their religious priorities, contrasted by Sadler’s parents lack of discipline on the boy. As Sadler spends more time with Skarlatos and Stone, the strong religious morals pushed by the boy’s mothers is slowly softened. Sadler is able to really bring out Stone’s true character: a fun-loving, people-loving boy with strong discipline developed by his mother’s religious morality reflected in him.


Spencer Stone’s life is filled with lessons that lead him to his destiny, as he describes, “the thing life is catapulting him into”. He developed hand-to-hand combat skills in jiu-jitsu training, learns how to deal with a bleeding victim with a deadly wound on their neck, and other useful information that masterfully foreshadowed the climax of the film. Eastwood’s character development is unmatched and it was a thrill putting the pieces together as Stone lived his life without knowing what we know.

Finally, near the end of the film, Stone puts to use all of his skills up until this point, in an epic peak to the film after the hours of build up. At this point, it felt like the audience had personally grown up with these men, felt their emotions and fought their battles alongside them. Eastwood is a theatrical genius and The 15:17 to Paris is a brilliant movie with a beautiful message to society: the smallest things in our childhood can shape our adulthood. Movie rating: 9/10