Since the heroics of Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos on that fateful train to Paris where they stopped a terrorist attack, I have to admit that I have been hoping to have the same encounter whenever I travel. It must have been a very gratifying experience to be able to beat the shit out of a terrorist. That’s why I think the movie version of that famous event will do extraordinary business, because in America I think my feelings are quite common when it comes to terrorism, whether it was the neighbor to a church in Texas who stopped the shooter that unleashed a barrage of bullets into the innocent with a gun of his own, or the countless episodes in just the last few months where law enforcement and private citizens have done the same the moment they heard that, crack, pop, crack of .223 bullets splitting the air toward dreadful intentions. Leave it to Clint Eastwood to capture that American gusto in his newest film The 15:17 to Paris, which is set to release on February 8th 2018.
I’ve ridden on trains through France, just as that trailer set up the story, and I experienced very much the same emotions—especially in regard to the European baby Cokes. Eastwood is a master of the movie making craft at his mid-80s maturation and nobody does the little things better these days than him. I said it at the time that when Eastwood decided to make a movie of the book written by the three heroes that he’d do great things with the project—and he did by casting the three guys to play themselves in the movie. That took extraordinary confidence on his part and I think the result that ends up on-screen will be incredible. America needs a story like this right now and especially under a Trump White House, the cultural phenomena that it has a chance to become are ripe for the exemplary.
It’s obvious that Eastwood is going to explore the how and why these three ordinary kids become the heroes they did—and I’m quite certain that the answer will reside in the philosophy of Americanism. I remember when the guys were being praised after the event around the world for their heroism and thinking—why them? There were over 500 people on that train that day, and why was it three Americans who stopped the terrorist? Well, I know the answer, but the world has been banging its head against the rails trying to come to grips with it. The reason of course is that we make Americans from the time they are little kids into their adulthoods with a sense of self-purpose—with an assumption that they can do and be whatever they want in life. In Europe they are raised quite differently, because they have a history of bloodlines and aristocracy that keeps them from assuming that their destinies are largely in their own hands.
The idea that an individual can make a difference and do anything is an American concept. Not everyone in America gets it obviously, but the concept is there for anyone to answer and in the case of Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, they certainly did and Eastwood’s direction for the film will no doubt explore that. People inclined to fate might otherwise just sit there and let the events of terrorism do what they will do—and people will live or die accordingly. But changing that fate is something that you can see in the eyes of Spencer Stone in that preview—which is what Eastwood was obviously after when he decided to cast them in a movie about themselves. He wanted to show audiences what that looks like—to believe to their very core that if they wanted to change the fate of something, then individual action was the key to doing so. Some wimpy actor can try to mimic that behavior, which is how Eastwood pulled off the great work he did for American Sniper. But with something like this, in the age of terrorism—how best to combat terrorism but to teach people not to be so damn afraid of every little thing. So bullets are coming at you. Maybe some hit you. So what? But for a chance to beat the crap out of a terrorist and stop the death of hundreds of people who might otherwise have international consequences—who wouldn’t want the opportunity to do what these three guys did? I’d love the chance.
Clint Eastwood as I’ve said before is my favorite movie director—he has been for a while and he’s only become better over time. So I’d go see this movie regardless of what it was about and who was in it. Every film he does could be his last, so he appears to be putting a lot of love into each one of them while he still can—which is very admirable. But even for him the timing of this movie and the way it will be presented I don’t think could come under better circumstances. America has had a year of Trump. The economy is booming, tax cuts are coming, the Deep State is being exposed and cleansed of its activists—the world is respecting us again and terrorists are on their heels. All that has largely happened because normal every day Americans have had the courage to do their part in Making America Great Again and Clint Eastwood has captured that in this film.
Warner Bros. will have a massive hit on their hands when they release this, because we are all feeling it, and we want this story. Once we see this story it will only accelerate the process which explores what makes Americans different in a positive way—what makes them run toward danger when others cower and pray for mercy? That’s what The 15:17 to Paris is all about. As I said, I’ve been on a train across the French countryside, so I can relate to those opening shots. And in Paris which many consider to be one of the greatest cities in the world—I can say that Americans are very easy to spot. We think different, and not in a bad way. We like our Cokes bigger, we enjoy more food—we tend to be bigger and stronger as a result—but more than anything we like what we like when we want it, because we come from a culture that feeds that nature in us. We don’t like long lines—we don’t like public transportation—because we want to be in charge of our own destinies whenever possible—and we don’t like to be pushed around. When someone points a gun in our face, we have more than a few of us who will charge that attacker for the glory and pride of doing so no matter what might happen afterwards because we were born free and recognize quickly around the world where tyrants look to oppress—and we naturally don’t like it.
I will be one of the first in line to see The 15:17 to Paris. I can’t wait!
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