THE 15:17 TO PARIS (not reviewed)

The 15:17 to Paris review: Casting real world heroes as themselves is the weirdest thing Clint Eastwood's done since

They were later cast by Eastwood to play themselves in the film. For all three, faith is an essential part of their story.

They're not the only people on the train that day who portrayed themselves in the movie.

They became instant celebrities and were honored by both the French and USA governments for their heroism. As the narrative has it, Stone faced more challenges and, when the fight on the train breaks out, he's the one who's large and in charge and laying it all on the line - he almost lost a thumb from the terrorist wielding a box cutter and applied life-saving measures to victims in the aftermath.

Here's the kicker: the three American heroes are playing themselves here. The son of a Baptist minister, he said that fateful day felt "like a biblical moment" for him, reaffirming his conviction that God had a plan for his life. "Eastwood, are you asking us to be in the film?' He said, 'Yeah, why not?' Minds blown at that point".

"The odds are too astronomical for it to just be chance", Skarlatos said.

But the truth is, as was the case in "Sully", which was given a boost from a great Tom Hanks, we are biding our time until we get to the big event, which Eastwood teases with shots of the terrorist, who remains a cipher, walking through the train station with his knapsack and carry-on roller.

Despite their lack of acting experience, Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler say Eastwood was happy with their performances, and they were pleased with the way their story was told.

As far as the three friends are concerned, any account of their story would be incomplete if it left out their Christian faith.

Stone may find a future in film; the other two, I'm not so certain. Anthony Sadler is underwhelming but there is a charisma he brings to the screen, while Alek Skarlatos is just. wooden. As their Paris-bound train hurtled across the border from Belgium into France, another man, 25-year-old Ayoub El Khazzani, armed with an AKM assault rifle, a pistol and a bottle of gas, opened fire in a passenger cabin in an apparent terrorist attack.

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"Hopefully this launches movie careers for all three of us", said Sadler.

The 15:17 to Paris isn't really an original Eastwood story. For Stone, it has presented "a huge platform" from which "to spread the word of God".

The friends also talked about working with Eastwood, as well as former "The Office" star Jenna Fisher. Going over all the details was very helpful because I was able to kind of close that chapter.

"You build up people a lot in your head as to who they are", he said. Astonishingly bad, as you might imagine.

The three friends hope the film will deliver the message that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things and that every life has a goal.

A honest and repeated attempt is made to establish that the boarding of that train to Paris by the three was an act of God, for they nearly didn't go to the French capital.

Skarlatos hopes that the film will speak to those who struggle to understand their life's objective.

"We thought that would be enough", says Sadler. You may link to stories on our public site.

Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

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