The 15:17 to Paris

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The 15:17 to Paris Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Real-life terror attack drama is both awkward and effective.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Simple, but clear: Sometimes a hero is simply someone who's in the wrong place at the wrong time and has the courage to act.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The movie sets up the main characters as wanting to help their country and their fellow humans by joining the military, but they don't really get their chance until they board the fated train. The fact that they took action when it mattered is admirable.


Terrorist with heavy artillery and ammo shoots a man in the shoulder. Heavy bleeding in a few scenes. Beating, smashing with rifle butt, choke-hold, knife slashes. Gory practice medical dummy. Kids play with (very realistic-looking) fake guns and "play war."


Scantily clad women ogled in a nightclub. Woman dances on a stripper pole. Kissing. Brief innuendo.


Several uses of "s--t," plus "a--hole," "ass," "damn," "badass," "goddamn," "God," "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations). Brief, intended-as-comical racial comment ("crackers" and "brother").


A character works at Jamba Juice in one scene; logo shown, juice ordered, etc. Character orders a Coke. Instagram mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer and wine in clubs; social drinking, with comical hangover in one scene. Smoking in one scene. Discussion of medication for ADD. Very brief joke about pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The 15:17 to Paris is a fact-based drama directed by Clint Eastwood about three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack aboard the titular train in 2015. The intense, bloody terrorist attack is shown; viewers will see a shooting, fighting, bashing with a rifle butt, choking, and knife slashes. Kids also play "war" with very realistic-looking toy guns. Language includes several uses of "s--t," plus "a--hole," "goddamn," and more, including a brief racial reference. A scene in a nightclub features scantily clad women, kissing, and women dancing on a stripper pole. There's also a little innuendo. Characters drink beer and wine socially, sometimes resulting in hangovers. A character smokes a cigarette. The three main characters are played by the actual men involved in the incident; their acting is often amateurish, and there are long awkward/unnecessary stretches, but when the movie gets going, it works.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCathy K. February 23, 2018

Reality check. Educational and informative. The "real deal" in American Heroism.

Almost a documentary. But with a lot more of a "back story". Eastwood's different approach is "off the chain "in innovation.
So much i... Continue reading
Adult Written byLinda B. February 17, 2018

Proud Military Mom

This movie makes you proud to be an American. We know that real life is NOT like the big screen and to see the portrayal of real Americans without the hypocris... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJames620 February 9, 2018

A Disappointment

This could have been a great movie with good themes and role models, but it falls very short.
The story is to long for the amount of speaking in it and the acti... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytimdrakebestrobin June 25, 2018
The 15:17 To Paris is directed by Clint Eastwood, and stars Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer, and William Jennings

What's the story?

In THE 15:17 TO PARIS, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler (all playing themselves) have been best friends since they started making trouble together in middle school in Sacramento, California. Alek and Spencer, serving in the military in Europe, convince Anthony to join them for a summer backpacking trip. They visit Germany and Italy and then detour for a wild night in Amsterdam. On the train to Paris the next day, a terrorist emerges from the bathroom with a rifle and some 300 rounds of ammunition. He manages to shoot a man before the three friends jump into action, taking out the terrorist and saving the life of the wounded man.

Is it any good?

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this drama has a first half that's slow and awkward, mainly due to the stars' amateurish acting; but once it finally gets going, Eastwood's skilled touch reveals itself. The 15:17 to Paris isn't the first movie to cast non-actors in key roles (see Act of Valor), and it faces most of the same problems as Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler struggle through memorized dialogue. But you could almost argue that this is like a work of Italian neorealism; indeed, Eastwood once worked with a pioneer of that movement, Vittorio De Sica, on a 1967 movie called The Witches.

It's true that the long backstory stuff -- especially the bits about the central trio as middle school kids -- is wince-inducing and possibly unnecessary. But if you have patience until the European trip starts, things start getting exciting. And the final stretch featuring the attack and the heroic act is worth the trouble. Eastwood shows it all with his usual classical simplicity. Usually in biopics (such as Eastwood's own previous film, the terrific Sully), an epilogue shows footage of the real-life person or persons, and we're left to compare it to the performance of the actors we've just seen. In The 15:17 to Paris, it's the same faces; this may have been a re-creation, but there was no pretending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The 15:17 to Parisviolence. Is it exciting or shocking? Does it make any difference that we know how the situation is going to turn out? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How do you feel about the fact that the real-life heroes play themselves in the movie? Do you think their lack of acting training helps or hinders the movie?

  • Are the characters inspiring? Are they role models? Why or why not?

  • How did you feel about the scenes of children playing "war" using realistic guns?

Movie details

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