With his re-enactment of the defeat of the Thalys in 2015, Clint Eastwood praises the courage of “ordinary heroes” to whom he plays their own role and flatters the American patriotism in his film released Friday in the United States.

The 15:17 to Paris  tells how, on August 21, 2015, three childhood friends in the United States intervened with their bare hands to disarm a jihadist armed with a Kalashnikov and loaded with full loaders, on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris. A tour de force that avoided carnage.

This new project is in line with Eastwood’s recent production retracing real-life stories of characters with extraordinary experiences, after American Sniper(2014), a highly controversial film about a sniper in Iraq, and Sully ( 2016), on the ditching of a commercial flight on the Hudson River, with Tom Hanks.

Except that unlike previous films, he made the bet to rotate the three real “heroes” of Thalys: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler.

“It was very interesting to get back on the train. (…) Psychologically, it was not traumatic for us, because nobody lost their life that day and a lot of positive came out of all that, “said Anthony Sadler to the French weekly Paris Match.

The director also hired health workers and firefighters from the north who responded to the alert given that the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris was diverted to Arras train station in northern France.

Filmed without daring, the scene of Thalys arrives late in the film, which lasts a little more than 1:30 and allows to see more clearly in the course of events.

Not presented to the press

On the other hand, the director of Impitoyable spends the first part of the film exploring the journey of these three inseparables, raised in the vicinity of Sacramento.

His attention is focused on Spencer. Kid raised by his mother, fascinated by weapons, he stuck to the wall of his room the poster of the film Eastwood Letters Iwo Jima and dreams of saving lives, even if it does not respect the rules of the game.

Shaven with a shaven head, it is he who will be the first to attack the jihadist, risking his life. Throughout the film, Eastwood will sow clues to announce the fate of this character.

The film will then focus on the tour of Europe of the three friends (Venice, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris), summarized by scenes of drinking, pole dance disco and selfies taken at the pole in front of tourist spots.

It is at the Élysée that this edifying story concludes: the three heroes received the Legion of Honor, the highest distinction in France. A scene that mixes archival footage and clumsy reconstruction with a false French president, back, which no one believes.

Highly anticipated, The 15:17 to Paris was previewed in France to a select audience but was not shown to the press. The director hardly spoke on this project, leaving the media field to his three “heroes”.