THE 15:17 to PARIS — Review by Susan Granger

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On Thalys passenger train 9364 bound for Paris on August 21, 2015, three brave Americans intercepted a terrorist who was determined to kill as many people as possible. Their spontaneous heroism inspired Clint Eastwood not only to film their story but also to cast Spencer Stone, Alex Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler as themselves. Continue reading…

Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and Oregon National Guardsman Alex Skarlatos were vacationing in Europe with their childhood friend Anthony Sadler, who was studying for a kinesiology degree from Cal State, when a heavily armed gunman opened fire on their high-speed train.

With the help of French businessman Mark Moogalian, they subdued and disarmed 22 year-old Ayoub El Khazzani (Ray Corasini), the Lebanese assailant. The Frenchman and three Americans subsequently received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, from President Francois Holllande at the Elysee Palace.

Following “Sully” about pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger and “American Sniper” about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, this marks the third film in a row in which Clint Eastwood has depicted real-life events, honoring ordinary people who have greatness thrust upon them.

Screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal had already adapted their inspirational story, when Eastwood asked the young men to play themselves, a concept that’s been done before. Jackie Robinson played the lead in “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950) and World War II veteran Audie Murphy starred in “To Hell and Back” (1955).

Although they’d never taken acting lessons, all three immediately agreed, co-starring with experienced pros like Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer. Now, they’re eagerly pursing further acting jobs.

Unfortunately, there’s little to the script beyond basic exposition – nothing except adolescent flashbacks that would reveal the backstory or motivation of each of the participants. Prior to the terrorism, they’d traveled to Rome, Venice and Berlin, roaming bars and discos, before deciding to go to Amsterdam, instead of Spain.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The 15:17 to Paris” is a re-enacted 5, an authentic historical event that was ripped from the headlines.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.