Art by Tori Roberts
By Reagan O’Farrell
In a world where terrorism seems to have become relatively inevitable, it is not much of a surprise that movies are now being released exemplifying the heroism of those who take action to prevent it. In the most recent case, that movie is The 15:17 to Paris.
The 15:17 to Paris tells the true story about the endeavors three men took to stop a terrorist bent on killing hundreds of helpless citizens as they took the Thalys train connecting Amsterdam to Paris. This movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, has a notable twist, however—the main cast is the heroes themselves.
This film has a running time of an hour and 36 minutes in which the life stories of Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler are told beginning when they are around 11 years old and ending when they receive membership to the Légion d’Honneur.
Overall, The 15:17 to Paris told a great story of heroism from seemingly ordinary people, demonstrating the power of every individual to make a difference in the world. However, going into the theater, one would expect to learn more about the events that transpired that day in August of 2015 when a man entered a heavily-populated train with the intent to kill, or even gain a look into the unique lives of all the people who stopped that man. Frankly, neither of those happened.
The plot—which was, of course, a true story—seemed interesting on the surface, but the only moments where a person could feel like he or she was interacting with the film, almost there, feeling the rush of adrenaline, happened in the span of a brilliantly produced maybe-fifteen minutes. The rest of it was pretty distant.
This may be because the transition from childhood to adulthood is abrupt, awkward, and lacking in explanations. Not to mention, the dialogue among the children is forced—child actors William Jennings, Bryce Geiser, and Paul-Mikél Williams did their best with what they got, but what they got must not have been good enough.
It may also be because of the most infamous detail being the actors actually playing themselves. Their acting, while a good attempt, is not the best. The conversations are not natural—from sports talk to making light of one another or talking about future plans, it is evident they were not trained to do this kind of work. One develops an appreciation of those who act for a living when watching these three make a go. Then again, maybe it is just really hard to act as yourself in a film.
The best scenes in the movie came when the men were acting in behavior seemingly normal to them. In Spencer’s case, this was following orders on a military base, practicing jiu jitsu, and ultimately taking down the terrorist. He seemed to hold the most spotlight, which may be because he is the one who ran down a man in the face of a gun and faced injuries due to his willingness to protect people.
Overall, The 15:17 to Paris shared an excellent story about heroism in the modern world and about the coming-of-age tale of Spencer, Alek, and Anthony. While the production was a bit awkward, the inspiring tale captivates audiences regardless.