The 15:17 to Paris is an inspiring movie based on true events that took place in France in August 2015. Three American friends—two of them off-duty members of the U.S. military—halt a terrorist attack on a speeding train after an assailant armed with an assault rifle, 300 rounds of ammunition, and other weapons shoots a man and plans on taking out many more. Four people were injured, but miraculously, no one died.
Clint Eastwood, the director, cast the original three friends—and heroes—in the movie as themselves. The trio features Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone. The story, based on a book they wrote about the experience, opens with the background story of how the three met at a Christian school and remained friends after growing up. They all loved the military but were all a bit on the rebellious and mischievous side. Still, one of them, Spencer, prayed that he would one day make a difference in people’s lives. The scene shows him praying part of the Prayer of St. Francis and his desire to be an “instrument of Gods peace.” That prayer is used again to emphasize the point of the heroic action at the conclusion of the film. The movie wraps up with the three men, and a fourth man from France, being awarded medals for their acts of courage.
The movie is slow-moving in a few spots but gives the audience a powerful and compelling conclusion. It clearly states that ordinary people can sometimes do extraordinary things. It’s too bad that language and the level of violence that is shown prevents us from awarding the movie our Dove Seal. But this story of heroism deserves more attention and perhaps this movie will help make that happen.