The true story of how three American friends stopped a terrorist attack on a train to France and saved 500 lives. Directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Dorothy Blyskal from the book.
Clint Eastwood is one of the most courageous and bold filmmakers in Hollywood. He defies the hegemony, goes against the grain, speaks truth to power.
The 15:17 to Paris is no exception. This is a story of American exceptionalism, positive Christianity, pro-military and salvific masculinity.
Like Owen Wilson would say, “Wow.”
It follows the ordinary lives of three boys from grade school up to adulthood and how the simple and sometimes frustrating obstacles of life are providentially used by God to create ordinary heroes. I use that ironic term “ordinary heroes” deliberately because, not only is this a true story, but it is one that shows us being a hero is not something for comic books and movies, but is part and parcel of a life of traditional American Christian values that have been lost in our culture.
All right, I have to say this right up front, the acting is not Oscar-worthy. It’s mediocre, and a bit of a weakness of the film. But I am totally okay with it because Eastwood cast the actual three men to play themselves in the movie.
It’s a gimmick that works because it carries with it a certain sense of authenticity that A-list actors would not carry. Of course, I love what A-list actors can bring to true stories as well. But in this case, it’s okay that they don’t. And the reason is because the whole point of the story is that ordinary average citizens without privilege can be real heroes.
So, you’ll have to have a little patience with these first time thespians. But trust me, it will be worth it.
Salvific Masculinity in an Emasculated World
Leftists and America-haters will hate this movie with all the hatred in their black little hearts.
Patriots and reasonable Christians will love this movie because it showcases God’s providential control in our lives and defies the political correctness of cultural Marxism that is destroying our society.
Here’s how it does that…
The very first scene takes place when the boys are in grade school. Two of the boys’ mothers are both single mothers and have to talk to a teacher about their “unruly” behavior of testosterone and looking out windows. It shows the misandrist nature of modern education and the war on boys through imposition of feminist theories of education.
The boys don’t fit in because they are boys. The teacher of course calls this natural boyness, “ADD,” and recommends drugs to “calm them down” (ie: oppress them) with an appeal to the usual pseudo-scientific “statistics.” The women leave in defiance of this lunacy and one of the moms says, “My God is bigger than your statistics.”
They then put them into a Christian school.
This sets the stage for a movie of how these boys struggle through childhood to become adults. They aren’t perfect little angels, but they learn to channel their masculinity.
One hilarious scene that will get the blood boiling of leftists and cause hives on their puritanical frowning faces is after the two boys, Alek and Spencer, meet Anthony, a black boy and they become friends. (Wait a minute! That can’t be! White conservatives are supposed to be racists! How can this be?!) Alek has Anthony over and introduces him to his cache of airsoft guns and rifles. He lays out a crap load of pistols and rifles on his bed like a gun arsenal from the Expendables. This is what boys love, contrary to the fascist attempt to punish them in modern schools for even thinking about guns.
The boys learn to play war in the woods, something that is considered evil by the current generation, but in God’s providence is exactly the kind of masculine play that we learn will prepare them to save lives in the future.
And that’s how the whole movie goes, showing how the boys become men, join the army and how their normal lives are lived. No dark drug deals, not murderous betrayals or superhero powers.
The Providence of God
There is a point in the film, right before the young men go on the fateful train ride when they are in Venice and Europe just having a good time. It was a sequence that by movie standards is quite slow and potentially boring. I balked at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the whole point that is being made is how incredibly normal and real these men were. Boring lives by Hollywood movie standards, but THIS IS WHAT REAL HEROES ARE MADE OF.
The lead guy, Alek, is shown throughout his life rarely finishing anything. And when he finally does put his heart into finishing in the military as a pararescue operator, he is disqualified for bad depth perception.
He is constantly frustrated with trying to do something good with his life and feeling blocked or unable to do so. On the surface, these are the kind of things that all of us experience and we think we don’t get what we want in life. It’s universal, which makes the mundane so profound.
Alek has to change and take a lesser situation as consolation: SERE, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. He is disappointed as we are with consolations in life. But because of this, he learns techniques on how to save lives—that he will use to save the life of a dying man on that train ride. In jujitsu, he learns the move that enables him to take down a terrorist.
I won’t tell you other providential miracles that occur during the fight with the terrorist that can only be accounted for as miraculous. But the ordinary struggles in life are how God prepares heroes. He has his plans, and he doesn’t usually let us know. And sometimes, he’ll jump in with a miracle or two to remind us of the point of it all. So have some faith and be a man.
And no, I am not importing my own God beliefs onto the film. They are there. Throughout the movie, Alek keeps saying, “Don’t you feel like life is catapulting you toward something, a greater purpose?”
His mother, a “crazy Christian mom” who happens to be right, tells him, “I prayed and God told me he has something exciting in store for you.”
Faith is the ability to do what is right and accept mundane reality, knowing that it’s not about you.
As a child, Alek prays a prayer that he repeats at the end of the film that ties together what some would think are contradictory things: God, love and guns.
“Lord let me be an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon. Where there is darkness, light. And where there is sadness, joy. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
The whole point of this is that God builds masculine men to protect others in this world. And through faith, we can find the patience in doing good, and accepting God’s providential loving control in our lives, knowing that he will use everything we experience for his purpose.
Thank God true heroes still cling to God and guns.