15:17 TO PARIS
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Mike R
A bearded man tugging along a rolling suitcase, boards a train, the titular 15:17 to Paris.
In the next scene Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos (all real-life people who are playing themselves in the movie) are driving in a car together. In a voice-over, Anthony explains how Alex and Spencer are his closest friends. In voice-over, he says that they’ve been getting each other into trouble since middle school.
The movie goes back to their middle school years. Spencer and Alek’s mothers walk into a classroom to speak with the boys’ teacher. The women tell the teacher that they believe bullying may be affecting their sons’ schoolwork. The teacher tells them that Spencer is behind on his reading, and that Alek is too easily distracted. She suggests that the boys may have ADD, and that they may need medication to help them focus. Neither mother reacts well to this, and they move to leave. The teacher calls after them, telling them that with single mothers “it’s just statistics,” but Spencer’s mom interrupts her, saying “My God is bigger than your statistics.”
We see Alek and Spencer at school. A passing teacher tells them that they’re late for class and asks for a hall pass. Spencer takes one of his school president campaign posters (a contest that he lost) off a wall, tears it in two and says, “Here’s my hall pass.” The teacher sends them to the principal’s office.
While waiting to see the principal, they see Anthony leaving the principal’s office. The principal calls the two boys in, warning them to stay away from Anthony because he is a troublemaker.
Later Spencer and Alek are playing basketball during gym class. They see Anthony and strike up a conversation with him. Another student throws a ball at Anthony, and when he responds with strong language the gym teacher sends him to the principal’s office. Seeing Spencer and Alek laughing about it, he tells them to go too.
Another day Anthony visits Spencer at his home. Spencer shows off his collection of air rifles and paintball guns, as well as a real hunting rifle. Spencer suggests that they play with the air rifles, but Anthony says that he has another idea.
Spencer’s mom gets a phone call from a neighbor. She confronts Spencer in his room, telling him that the neighbor says two kids toilet papered her house. She yells at him and tells him to go to bed.
After Spencer prays before bed, we see a brief glimpse of the terrorist incident on the train; then we cut to young Spencer in class. In a discussion about FDR’s New Deal, the teacher asks the kids if they would know what to do if something bad happened right then. The three boys stay behind to ask the teacher if he was able to find any battle plans from World War II. He hands them a folder, and the boys are impressed.
The boys play with toy guns in the woods, presumably reenacting the World War II battle plans. While resting, Anthony tells his friends that he’ll be leaving their Christian school to go to public school.
Back at school Spencer and Alek get in trouble again for not having all passes. Their mothers meet with the principal, who tells Alek’s mom that he thinks the boy would be better off living with his father. She reacts angrily, and the mothers leave with their sons. Later we see that Alek is, in fact, leaving to be with his father. Spencer and Alek say goodbye. Spencer’s mom tries to comfort him.
We get another scene on the train. Husband and wife Mark and Isabelle Moogalian (who play themselves in the movie) discuss another passenger who has been in the bathroom for a while. Mark is suspicious because the man took his suitcase in with him and has been in there for a long time. Mark decides to check it out. There is another man waiting outside the bathroom. As they both remark on how long the guy in the bathroom has been in there the bathroom door opens, and we see the bearded man who we saw boarding the train at the beginning. He is holding an assault rifle. Several passengers struggle with the gunman. Mark gets control of the gun and starts to run away, but the gunman pulls out a pistol and shoots him.
We cut to a scene in which we see the boys are now older (and being played by their real-life selves). Alek sits in a class where the instructor tells him that if he plans on joining the military, he will need to learn about data analysis. Spencer is working at a coffee shop, and he seems to be contemplating a military recruitment center across the street. Later, Spencer and Anthony watch a football game on TV. Spencer says that he plans on trying out for the Air Force, and Anthony doubts whether Spencer has the resolve to go through with it. Anthony also questions his physical fitness.
In a montage we see Spencer working out and getting in shape. He passes the Air Force physical test, but he finds that even though he has been accepted, he doesn’t qualify for the pararescue job he wants because he failed a vision test for depth perception. Anthony visits him before he ships out for basic training. Spencer is still upset that he didn’t get the job he wanted, and instead will be training for the SERE program (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape). At basic training Spencer struggles. He is behind on his assignments and gets in trouble for sleeping late.
Alek is driven to the airport by his mother. He has evidently joined the military. His mother tells him that she is afraid, but that God has told her that something exciting is going to happen.
Back on the train (in the present day) passengers flee the gunman.
Back at basic training, Spencer is in a classroom when an alert is sounded that there is an active shooter on base. Spencer ignores orders to hide under a desk and instead waits by the door, ready to use a pen as a weapon if a gunman enters the classroom. The “all clear” is sounded, and they are informed that it was a false alarm.
In the next scene, we see Alek riding along in a Humvee in Afghanistan. He realizes that he forgot his pack at a village, and they turn back to retrieve it.
At basic, Spencer receives battlefield medical training. He also practices in a martial arts class, where he appears to excel.
Alek shares a video call with Spencer. Alek mentions a woman who wants him to visit her in Germany. They talk about taking a backpacking trip in Europe. Spencer calls Anthony and invites him along.
In the next scene, Spencer and Anthony meet in Italy. They see a few tourist sites together. Alek arrives in Germany and is greeted by the woman referenced in his earlier conversation with Spencer. They have some beers together. Back in Italy Spencer and Anthony meet a fellow American woman who joins them after Spencer asks her to take a picture for him. Anthony and Spencer tell her that they are debating whether or not to fit a visit to Paris into their trip.
Spencer and Anthony arrive in Germany, where they visit the site where Hitler killed himself during the war. At a bar, Spencer asks a bartender what she thinks about France, and talks about his plans to visit there. Another patron suggests that they visit Amsterdam. Later they visit a club, where they meet up with Alek.
The next morning, hung over, they go out for food. They talk about their trip to Paris, and discuss skipping or delaying it, but decide to stick to the plan. Next, we see them at the station boarding the 15:17 to Paris. The guys move from their current seats up, to first class, where the wi-fi is better.
Again we see the bearded man boarding the train. He goes into the bathroom and prepares for his attack. The scene cuts back to what we saw earlier of Mark Moogalian running away with the assault rifle and the attacker shooting him. As passengers react, Spencer scopes out the situation. The gunman picks up the assault rifle. Spencer runs at him. The gunman pulls the trigger, but the weapon fails to fire. Spencer tackles him, and they fight for the weapon. The gunman tries to use his pistol, but Alek grabs it from him and strikes him with it. The attacker pulls out a knife and cuts Spencer. Anthony enters the fray, and the three friends struggle with the man; Spencer chokes him unconscious. Spencer then rushes to help the wounded man, Mark Moogalian. Mark’s wife comforts him as Spencer tries to treat him for a serious gunshot wound. Alek disassembles the assault rifle as Anthony brings a sweater to help stop the bleeding.
Police are waiting as the train pulls into the station. Alek directs them to the gunman, who is now restrained and conscious. Paramedics board the train and take over the treatment of Mr. Moogalian. The gunman is hauled off the train by the police. Mark is helped off the train and treated for injuries received in the fight with the gunman. Mr. Moogalian is carried off the train on a stretcher. In voice-over, we hear Spencer repeat the prayer we heard him utter before bed when he was a boy.
In the last scene, the guys receive a commendation from French President François Hollande, who commends them for their heroism in the face of evil and awards them the Légion d'Honneur.