We’ve had ‘American Sniper,’ ‘Sully,’ and now ‘The 15:17 to Paris.’
Hot off American Sniper’s (2014) adaptation of US navy Seal Chris Kyle’s memoir and the depiction of Chesley Sullenberg’s water landing in the more controlled Sully (2016), Clint Eastwood’s true-life American tales will go from a duo to a trio with his next film. As per Deadline Hollywood, it has been confirmed that Eastwood’s next film will be a drama based on Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey E. Stern’s book The 15:17 To Paris: The True Story Of A Terrorist, A Train, And Three American Heroes. The deal to the book also includes the rights to the three friends’ life stories.
The script has been written by Dorothy Blyskal, and tells the tale of not one hero as per Eastwood’s previous films, but three. When an ISIS terrorist boarded the #9364 train from Brussels to Paris with enough ammo to kill over 500 people, three friends (Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone) “refused to give in to fear” and fought back. Using their combined skills in the martial arts, US Air Force and as a National Guard, they were able to overpowered the terrorist and stopped the death of multiple lives.
Eastwood’s focus on true-life stories is creating a running trend through his body of work, but, more importantly, it leaves us asking: why does he feel the need to tell these stories now? Perhaps the success of American Sniper, which had a budget of just under $60 million but grossed more than $500 million worldwide, proved the profitability of these stories. No doubt, American Sniper’s success allowed Sully, a story that is ostensibly more difficult to make entertaining due to its subject matter, to be made. However, while American Sniper is morally ambiguous compared to the thoughtful direction by Eastwood (and, notably, reserved acting by Tom Hanks) with Sully, it’s clear the director is more concerned with the inner psyches of his different kinds of heroes rather than the direct effects their heroism has had on the world. The tagline of Sully tells audiences how it is telling the “untold story” behind what we already know, this becoming applicable to the director’s previous true-life story in the fact that the “untold story” is the story of the mind of the central figure.
With Eastwood’s adaptation of The 15:17 to Paris, audiences can expect a focus on the underdog heroes and more than a few action codes. But, in terms of the direction of American Sniper and Sully, audiences can also expect a large focus on the inner workings of the heroes being depicted.