The story riveted two continents. And now it’s coming to the big screen thanks to legendary director Clint Eastwood – starring the very heroes who saved so many lives.
“The 15:17 to Paris,” set for release Feb. 9, tells the story of the 2015 Thalys train attack in which three Americans helped stop an armed Islamic terrorist from perpetrating a massacre on a French train.
Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alex Skarlatos, who arguably saved dozens of lives that day, will portray themselves in the film.
It’s a story not just of heroism but of faith.
“On that day, God had His hand on us,” said Sadler of the train attack.
Sadler’s father, a Baptist preacher, explained: “We believe God’s providential will worked its way out. I’m just thankful they were there and got things done.”
Stone and Skarlatos also credit the Almighty with protecting them that day.
“The odds of our exact situation happening to us are too astronomical to believe that it was just purely chance; God had a hand in it,” says Stone. “I believe we’re vessels, to be used by Him, to do His work. And it was an honor to do something that good.”
The three men helped subdue Ayoub El Khazzani when he boarded Thalys train 9364 armed with an AKM assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Khazzani, inspired by Islamic preaching online, was likely planning a massacre, and only the courageous actions of passengers, including Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler, prevented him from executing his murderous plan.
“The 15:17 to Paris” recounts the dramatic events of that day, including how the Americans rushed the gunman. But it also covers the friendship of the three men, the military experiences of Skarlatos and Stone, and the importance of faith.
Eastwood, who produces as well as directs the film, was widely praised for his positive image of the American military in “American Sniper,” which was nominated for Best Picture by the Academy Awards.
The new film is widely anticipated by conservatives and Christians eager to see a movie that reflects their values.
In a recent interview, Eastwood stated Skarlatos, Stone and Sadler had a “natural gift” for acting.
“The more they thought about it, the more they got with it,” he said.
Eastwood also said it was a “bit of a catharsis for them to go back and relive the moment.”