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The 15:17 to Paris Movie Review

Reviewed by on Feb 11, 2018
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw the true-life film The 15:17 to Paris about three young American guys who stopped a terrorist on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. Is it worth a trip to the Cineplex? Check our review.

By: Lynn Barker

The 15:17 to Paris tells the real-life story of Spencer, Anthony and Alek, three young men from Sacramento, Ca. whose brave act turned them into heroes during a high-speed train trip. After growing up together and getting undeserved bad boy reps, the trio kept in touch and, as adults, they decided to take a European backpacking trip in 2015 only to end up stopping a terrorist on an Amsterdam to Paris train.

Young Spencer and Anthony become BFFsYoung Spencer and Anthony become BFFs

Childhood in Sacramento

We see a terrorist board a European train, go into a bathroom and take guns out of a suitcase. Later, he comes out and starts shooting.  In flashback we go to middle school where kids Spencer Stone and buddy Alek love to wear cammo shirts and play war when they aren’t getting into trouble. Outside the principal’s office they meet another mild offender named Anthony and the trio bonds as besties. Spencer and Alek’s moms (Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer) move them from public to private Catholic school which is even more strict. The boys are thought to have ADD (attention deficit disorder) but the moms won’t drug them. The slightest infraction further labels the trio as troublemakers although they are good kids. Alek is sent to Oregon to live with his dad.

The moms don't believe their sons are bad kidsThe moms don't believe their sons are bad kidsCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Young Adults

When the guys are young adults, Alek is in a college math class but wants to be in the National Guard. Spencer works at Jamba Juice but is impressed by a military recruiter who enters the store and Spencer thanks him for his service. Spencer wants to be on the Air Force Pararescue team and tells buddy Anthony who doesn’t think his overweight buddy can qualify. Spencer works out, loses weight and trains like crazy but he is washed out when it’s learned that he has no depth perception which is essential to being a parachutist. Spencer ends up in another service branch where he gets medical training. He’s dedicated but still barely makes it.

Alek's mom sends him off to AfghanistanAlek's mom sends him off to Afghanistan

Alek is sent to Afghanistan and his mom sees him off saying that God has shown her that he will be doing something exciting in the future. Later Alek Skypes with Spencer who is now in Portugal. The friends decide to take a backpacking trip through Europe after Alek meets an old girlfriend in Germany. They talk Anthony into coming along.

Spencer Skypes with Alek about their tripSpencer Skypes with Alek about their trip

European Vacation

Spencer and Anthony meet up in Italy, take tons of selfies and see the classic sights, teaming up with a cute American girl while Alek, in Germany, takes the old girlfriend to a popular neighborhood pub where his grandad used to hang out. The guys reunite in Berlin where they are convinced by an old rock musician to go to Amsterdam. Once there they party at a club. With hangovers the next morning the guys think of skipping Paris but decide to go anyway. Spencer feels that he has a great life purpose and keeps saying so.

Anthony arrives in Italy to join SpencerAnthony arrives in Italy to join Spencer

On the Train

Once on the 15:17 train to Paris, the guys help an old man and the group switches to first class where there is Wi-Fi. The terrorist bursts out of the bathroom and shoots a man trying to stop him. As he passes through the train, Spencer jumps toward him and the terrorist shoots but his gun jams and Spencer takes him down with help from Alek and Anthony. The long-time friends stop the terrorist, tie him up, help keep the passengers calm and Spencer puts his fingers in the bleeding artery of the man who was shot, thus saving his life until paramedics come.. The guys and their families are honored by the French President for their bravery.

The guys decide to move to First Class for Wi-FiThe guys decide to move to First Class for Wi-FiCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Wrapping Up

The 15:17 to Paris is certainly successful in showing us three real life heroes (who play themselves in the movie) who took action thus no doubt saving a train-load of people. The three young guys aren’t actors and sometimes it shows but, mostly, they are charming and tweens and teens can relate to them. If you aren’t like them, you know somebody who is.

The terrorist walks the trainThe terrorist walks the trainCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The actual incident on the train probably unfolded in 15 minutes so what do you do to fill out an entire movie? Famous director/actor Clint Eastwood decided to tell us the boys’ story from childhood on through their day of heroism. Although the young actors playing the guys as middle-schoolers are really believable, showing us the building blocks behind the characters, this section of the movie plays like a mediocre TV Afterschool Special.

The guys get medals from the President of FranceThe guys get medals from the President of FranceCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Most of the story concentrates on Spencer, showing us his desperate desire to succeed in the military and often failing. Alek and especially Anthony’s young adult lives are barely covered. The story really bogs down when we follow the guys on their European trip which has no real highlights and plays like anybody’s vacay footage as they indulge their selfie obsession and meet some hot girls.

Spencer (left) on the way to more trainingSpencer (left) on the way to more trainingCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Also, intercut very briefly with all of this is a tiny bit of footage showing snippets of what the terrorist will later do on the train. This is distracting. Once we get to the actual encounter with the terrorist on the train, the film moves quickly and is very well shot, making it seem like a “you are there” documentary. Too bad everything leading up to this is slow and sometimes boring no matter how true to life.

Spencer and Alek check out an itty bitty Coke canSpencer and Alek check out an itty bitty Coke canCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Although we celebrate these three young Americans for their bravery, we give the film three stars.

The 15:17 to Paris Movie Rating: 3

The 15:17 to Paris Movie PosterThe 15:17 to Paris Movie PosterCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The 15:17 to Paris is in theaters now.


Have Your Say

Had you heard about this true-life incident on the train? Do you think it is cool that the real life guys are playing themselves? Leave a comment below!