February 9, 2018, - 5:06 pm

Weekend Box Office: 15:17 To Paris, Fifty Shades Freed

By Debbie Schlussel

Two new movies at theaters, this weekend:

* The 15:17 To Paris – Rated PG-13: This is a great movie, with a MAJOR caveat. The movie depicts the heroic acts of three great American men–Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler–in foiling an Islamic terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam in 2015. Because of them, not a single person died in the attack.

The caveat: you would be hard-pressed to know from the movie that the terrorist is Muslim, but for his Arabic name, briefly mentioned in a speech by the French President at an awards ceremony. We know that the terrorist, Ayoub El-Khazzani, was an ISIS recruit, a jihadi, and a guy who, prior to the attack, had been designated with an “S” by French counter-terrorism forces, meaning he was the highest level of dangerous. But Director/Producer Clint Eastwood doesn’t seem to want you to know that. The guy has basically been whitewashed. In fact, I’m not even sure the actor who plays the terrorist, Ray Corasani, is an Arab or Muslim (El-Khazzani is a Moroccan national and an Arab Muslim, who regularly attended known jihadi mosques–a redundant phrase). I think he may be of Italian or Hispanic descent.

That said, other than this major offense, the movie is terrific. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, and it’s suspenseful during the scenes on the train. I wasn’t bored for an instant. The movie is patriotic, moving, and very respectful of Christianity. It makes you proud to be an American and takes some nice swipes at the wimpitude of not only Europe and Europeans, but also at that of some of the bureaucrats in our own military and some of the cowardly things they apparently teach our servicemen (and women).

The three men, all of them in their 20s, met as kids in a Christian school. The mothers of Skarlatos and Stone are single moms who are devout Christians. Prior to going to the school, the two boys went to public school, where their mothers were lectured about putting their boys on ADD medication for merely acting like young boys (being bored in school and looking out the window, etc.). “My G-d is bigger than your statistics,” one of the mothers tells a typically anti-male, imperious liberal school teacher.

I like that the movie shows kids playing with toy guns and possessing real ones and knowing how to use and respect them–a point in the story that will anger gun control advocates. The anti-war crowd probably also won’t like the fact that the three boys loved war and had their teacher (played by a barely recognizable Jaleel White a/k/a “Urkel”) give them World War II battle plans that they enacted in the woods with their toy guns. Anything that drives liberals and the rest of the politically correct phonies crazy, is up my alley.

I also liked that another scene shows Stone, responding bravely when there is a false alarm of an active shooter on his Air Force base. He and the rest of his Air Force trainees are told to hide under desks and tables, and he refuses, saying he’d rather die fighting off the reported shooter. Given that attitude, it’s kind of ironic–and hypocritical–that the movie hides under desks and tables when it comes to telling us who the attacker on the train was: an Arab Muslim immigrant.

The three boys stay friends and, as men in their mid-20s, go on a trip through Europe together. That’s where they–typical, average American men–rise to the occasion and heroically save countless European (and some American) passengers on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. One of them is told by his mother that she had a dream that G-d had a big, exciting event planned for him. And Stone prays, even as a kid, that G-d will bring him as his purpose, creating peace and saving lives. And we know what happened.

There is no sex in this movie (though there is a stripper pole). And, yes, it’s very briefly violent because, after all, it depicts the violence of an Islamic terrorist bent on snuffing out Westerners in the name of allah.

Of note is that the three heroes play themselves in the movie, and so the acting is good. Casting the real heroes as themselves was a good move because they are incredibly likable, good Americans. I also note that, but for a few major cities, this movie was not screened for movie critics. It also didn’t have any advance showings on Thursday night, which is now de rigueur even for the worst movies, so I was suspicious. But I braved the “Global Warming” Michigan winter snowstorm (10 inches) to go see it earlier today, and my suspicions were mostly proven wrong.

This is highly entertaining and worth seeing . . . so long as you know that Clint Eastwood was afraid to accurately tell the world who the attacker was: a Muslim bent on murdering hundreds of passengers in the name of his violent religion. For that reason, I cannot give it FOUR REAGANS. I can only give it . . .


Watch the trailer . . .

* Fifty Shades Freed – Rated R: More like Free Us From Fifty Shades. STAT. Many brain cells were killed in the viewing of this film. At least, I could feel a number of mine passing away from the sheer stupidity and idiocy of this utter crap. Fifty Shades of Booger Green would be vastly more interesting, not to mention classy. I hate-hate-hate-hate-hated this movie.

As I’ve written, the theme of the Fifty Shades movies and the “books” from which they are taken, is that modern American women have a great life when they marry a billionaire who is violent, jealous, and likes to torture them. Yup, hypocritical women flock to this stuff at the same time they are shrieking about #MeToo, Time’s Up, and Larry Nassar. A buncha frauds. As great talk radio host Richard Dixon of Birmingham, Alabama’s Talk 99.5 (on whose show I appear every Friday from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. Eastern) said, these women eagerly consume these Fifty Shades movies and read the books glorifying the torture of women, while at the same time they were shocked–SHOCKED!–by what Donald Trump said on the Access Hollywood tape. Indeed.

As I’ve previously noted on this site, the Fifty Shades novels dominated the fiction book bestseller lists for most of the last 13 years. And that’s because women make up 80% of the fiction buying market.

This movie was dumb. Silly. Filled with crummy dialogue that was consistently unintentionally laugh and cringe inducing. Oh, and did I mention the cheesy songs and music constantly played over the entire flick? The story and plot are straight out of the worst, most vapid, trashy Harlequin Romance novel ever. I couldn’t wait for this to end. Yet, it kept going and going and going. The best part was when the credits rolled. The worst part was the applause so many brainless women gave it at the screening I attended. And they wonder how the phrase “dumb broad” got coined. Um, hello . . . this is Exhibit A.

The story: Anastasia Steele (these names only exist on soap operas), a frumpy recent college grad, caught the eye of a fellow alum of her college, internet billionaire Christian Grey (whose company doesn’t seem to actually offer any real product or service). They’ve since gotten engaged and married. Now, she is living out the last, desperately overdone plot lines of the third installment of the Fifty Shades novels in this third movie in the series. Those plot points include a brief, pointless trip somewhere on a private plane and yacht, a disgruntled former would-be suitor who resorts to hacking and attempted kidnapping, a trip to Aspen, an unplanned pregnancy, a promiscuous architect trying to steal the billionaire husband, and other stupid stuff. Like a typical porn movie, nobody cares about the plot, including the scriptwriter and filmmakers.

With lots of topless shots of the flat-chested, homely Dakota Johnson, this movie is brain-addled semi-porn. With several torture scenes, it’s painful to watch and tragic that it was made.

With all of the middle-aged and younger women going to see this while fantasizing that they were married to this selfish, childish billionaire torturer rather than the hard-working husband or significant other that they are with, it’s yet another stark example that we live in a very spoiled and utterly mindless country filled with pathetic “Bad Mom” wannabes. Yay, feminism.


Watch the trailer . . .

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27 Responses

Fifty Shades Freed?

What’s the diff between that and Rob Porter having allegedly punched his ex-wives in the face?

Women complain about physical abuse and then they turn right around and enjoy torture porn.

Yay feminism, indeed.

NormanF on February 9, 2018 at 8:05 pm

LOLOL, great review of that silly porno crap series. The lead IS homely. Who would want to kidnap her?

Spot on about women today. Hard to even care when many are vast hypocrites and so mentally ill. It always made me laugh that women liked those poorly written books. It showed how dumb they were by not being turned off by the bad fan-fiction, the ridiculousness of what romantic “love” is in the books and how dopey one is to like any of it.

In the 80’s I used to work in a bookstore and we sold heaps of romantic novels (“Bodice Rippers”) that were way better written than those crappy books. What would these women do with those books in comparison? I still don’t get it and it makes me laugh. At the time I hated the books because I was a feminist and now see them way differently (but no where near realistic! Talk about fairy tales! Puh-leeze!). They were huge sellers with black women and gays. (Late 80’s) How weird is that? I tell ya, if you sold them today you would get RICH like authors used to in the 80’s. Still, you’re selling a fairy tale. Anyway. Jaded times. Pathetic times.

Romance today…with bad “feminist” women who are promiscuous until they marry, they marry men they shouldn’t and then the sex life goes kaputt, the men are either limp-dicks or snowflakes and/or not good men to begin with and the women become nagging hens who all the sudden admit they were sexually abused when they were young and then bring up kids in the mess they created. Ugh, so dysfunctional! Sad times!

Welcome back DS. Looking forward to more of your columns.

Skunky on February 9, 2018 at 8:58 pm

15:17 to Paris looks awesome 😀

mindy1 on February 9, 2018 at 9:27 pm

Excellent movie reviews, a bright spot in my morning.

My first enjoyable laugh at the lower case “allah” in the 15:17 To Paris review. Note to Clint Eastwood, call Debbie for some balls from someone who really puts it out there.

And I must admit… well Debbie had me primed from the first review, at an even bigger laugh with “Fifty Shades of Booger Green”.

An excellent start to a hard working and enjoyable day.

Phil Lipofsky on February 10, 2018 at 9:37 am

    PL, the only “allah” worthy of respect is the famed “Garden of Allah,” which was once a famous hotel at 8152 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The list of famous guests that stayed there is tremendous: Vic Damone (who passed away this Sunday), Liz Allen, Lauren Bacall, Tallulah Bankhead, John Barrymore, Robert Benchley, Humphrey Bogart, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Louis Calhern, John Carradine, Virginia Cherrill, Mickey Cohen, Orson Welles, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski, the Marx Brothers, Jackie Gleason, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, and too many other entertainment and music legends to name here.

    Ralph Adamo on February 12, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      RA, I am quite sure that Debbie lower-cased allah on purpose and that’s the joke that brightened my day.

      No, the Hollywood hothell that changed its name is not worthy of respect, although it might have once been, or perhaps at least memories, as it seems you tried to explain.

      Garden of allah… it sure smells an awful lot like flowers.

      Phil Lipofsky on February 14, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Reviews would be worth reading even just for the rating system alone. Thanks Debbie.

Mochizuki Koga on February 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I didn’t watch “The 15:17 To Paris” but even though he didn’t mention “Islam” I’m sure everyone knows what they were. I do have to give him credit for not fantasizing some bogus terror group. Hollywood usually substitutes something along the lines of some evangelical Christian group out of Iceland or some such nonsense

    JD: In fact, everyone does NOT know that the terrorist was Muslim. That’s the problem. We have a zillion morons going to see the movies, who believe everything that is in them and ONLY what is in them. There are plenty of ignoramuses in this country and they are among America’s frequent moviegoers. They are, often, uninformed people who do not even remember this news story or never even knew about it. They need to be told like children, what’s what. There is absolutely no reason Eastwood, who produced this, could not have made sure people knew he was Muslim. No reason at all . . . other than to be PC. DS

    Jerry Doegen on February 10, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      If it didn’t really matter Clint would have put them up there as villains like Hollywood does the Russian mob wouldn’t he?
      What everybody knows is that you’re not supposed to talk about this about this bogeyman.
      That’s what everybody knows.
      Even the heroes aren’t that brave even in the movies.
      Besides it’d just be counter productive and feed negative stereotypes.
      What a joke.

      Mochizuki Koga on February 10, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      As the French say it’s better this way and it’s been better that way for a long time in Paris.

      Mochizuki Koga on February 10, 2018 at 9:59 pm

The Fifty Shades Free poster looks like an ad for some porn flick. Is that what Feminism is about? Debbie has noted the hypocrisy of the #metoo people in this respect.

Worry on February 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm

There are other examples of #MeTooers’ hypocrisy besides their reaction to the “Fifty Shades of Trash” series of films vs. their “outrage” over Porter, Trump, etc. There’s their partnering with the likes of Linda “The Cockroach” Sarsour who advocates Sharia law, forcing women into burqas and into arranged marriages and FGM’s. There’s (among a few of their ranks) support for endangering the safety of women in bathrooms, locker rooms, showers etc., all in the name of orienting all of the above to the 0.3% of the populace who claim to be “transgender.”

And even the term “#MeToo” smacks of a wolf pack – a term associated with those that, in 1989, raped and brutally beat a female jogger in Central Park.

And viz “The 15:17 To Paris”: Even with Eastwood redacting references to Islam, the culprit is suing to have this film pulled.

Concerned Patriot on February 10, 2018 at 7:54 pm

I went to 15:17 today, TWICE! I might go again tomorrow. Now I have to read the book. They also showed how Spencer Stone, once he decided to join the Air Force, went on a strict diet and work out routine to lose the extra weight so he would qualify. We’re a better nation because of them. If you go, don’t leave when you think it’s over because it isn’t.

TT: While I agree with you about those three heroes, particularly Stone, doesn’t it bother you that the Muslim terrorist was completely whitewashed? It should. It should have bothered the three of them, too. DS

Tommy Thomas on February 11, 2018 at 4:04 am

    Evil should not be grayed out or rendered generic. It loses its meaning when those things are done.

    Worry on February 12, 2018 at 1:16 am

I totally agree with you on 15:17 to Paris! My husband and I enjoyed it for the many reasons you cited.

Carol B on February 11, 2018 at 3:31 pm

I didn’t bother seeing the 50 Shades movie. Totally unrealistic

Carol B on February 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Great review of “The 15:17 To Paris” will definitely see it. One correction:
“I think he may be of Italian or Hispanic decent.” You meant “descent”

Jim Paget on February 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Hmmm, what’s it going to be? “15:17 To Paris” or “Fifty Shades Freed?” Decisions, decisions. Why Does Debbie always make my life so complicated?

Ralph Adamo on February 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm

The Islam angle is so very important RE: the Eastwood film. It’s not good enough, just as DS’ stated.

It should be obvious to good Conservatives. Look at the Trump Derangement Syndrome these days. It’s vexing and annoying and shows how many nutters are amongst us and how few individual thinkers there really are. People are NOT keyed into the dangers of Islam. It is a VERY PC world. Moooooslims are ridiculously coddled. It’s demoralizing.

They way people are insane about Trump (who I didn’t trust but has been WAY better than I EVER expected. So proud I voted for him…I almost DIDN’T!!!) are the way they should feel about Cankles Clinton and that crypto Mooooooslim Commie Obama. How many people just go along with the nut-nuts is alarming to me. We are still a nation of dumbed-down sheep.

Look at how a dead-end, fugazi narrative like Trump and Russia has survived? All during Obama-Putin’s reign I tried to relay that an eye should be kept on Russia, but that it was hard to do because of the Islam chaos. Well, now peeps like Obama-Putin (who mocked Mitt Zombie for pointing to the Russia threat in a debate) can’t stop talking about Russia. No one cared for over 9 years. Ukraine. Crimea. That pip-squeak puppet Medvedev & Obama telling him to be patient. This society is full of effing nongs just interested in the next Kardashistan bastard!

Skunky on February 11, 2018 at 4:52 pm

From this description and summation of “The 15:17 to Paris,” it appears that Clint Eastwood and his screenplay writer created a good, but not great movie. The movie could have been a great one had it been more daring.

Allow me to explain. When I originally read some time ago that Eastwood was preparing to make a movie about the real-life event on the train, my very first thought was to question how he was going to avoid the same problem that was inherent in his previous directorial effort, “Sully.” In each case, the actual events took only minutes to occur. The dramatic problem in each was the same. How do you make a 80 – 120 minute movie from an a key event that lasted only a few minutes? Even the lead-up to the event would itself take no more than a few more minutes.

This is not a new problem, and it’s faced many a screenwriter, even in purely fictional works. Think of the great classic movie “Citizen Kane.” Charles Foster Kane is on his deathbed and drops a water/snow scene globe in his hand as he utters his last word, “Rosebud.” The scene lasts less than a minute, but screenplay writers Herman Jacob Mankiewicz and Orson Welles created a masterpiece exploring how Kane reached that final moment and gave viewers insight into how and why “Rosebud” was meaningful.

Eastwood’s “Sully” posed a similar problem. The events leading up to Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s decision to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River across from Manhattan, and the crash landing and rescue itself, took only minutes. So, how should Eastwood and the “Sully” screenplay writer have created a full-length movie from this event? They could have explored how and why Sullenberger got to the decision he made through his backstory. But Eastwood didn’t do that. Instead, he and his writer invented a bogus “conflict” between Sullenberger and the National Transportation Safety Board that didn’t happen in real life, and the movie, thus, rang hollow.

So, when I learned that Eastwood was making a story based on the event on board a Thalys express train, when a Muslim terrorist tried to murder passengers aboard in August 2015, I wondered if Eastwood was going to make the same blunder as he did with “Sully.” Was Eastwood going to take the bold route by exploring the back stories of the heroes and the terrorist to explain how they each came to be at their climactic encounter? Or was Eastwood going to, again, cop-out by creating some non-existent events to create the inherent conflict that is necessary for any dramatic telling?

Debbie’s review has answered the question. Eastwood and his screenplay writer have taken correct former route—but only half-way. They have completely avoided the backstory of Ayoub El-Khazzani, the Islamic terrorist who came onto the train armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, 270 rounds of ammunition, a Luger pistol, a bottle of petrol, a box-cutter, and a hammer. While the backstories to the protagonists or heroes of the key event are the most important, if the filmmakers aren’t also addressing the antagonist or villain of the key event, the drama is incomplete.

Thus, apparently, the movie tells us nothing about how and why El-Khazzani came to attempt to commit mass murder. This does not mean that writers should attempt to “humanize” or to “justify” in any way the actions that El-Khazzani ultimately took. Doing that is also a form of dramatic dishonesty—even more objectionable than inventing a fictitious conflict. But it does mean that a true drama based on this story would require that we learn much more about who El-Khazzani is, and what events in his life led to his being on that train to attempt to commit mass murder. The enormous contrast between the protagonists and the antagonists would have made for a truly fascinating and enduring drama. Eastwood and his screenplay writer missed a golden opportunity to create a great movie that would stand the test of time, like “High Noon,” which also involved a final conflict taking only minutes, but gave us the necessary backstories on both the protagonist, Will Kane, and his antagonists, Frank Miller and his gang members.

Ralph Adamo on February 11, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Eastwood may simply have made a conscious choice that honouring the heroes was more important than stirring up the inevitable controversy that would have accompanied any accurate examination of El-Khazzani’s back story.
    That would be an easy argument to make for those receptive to it.
    At any rate the Hollywood code of silence has been maintained and the forms obeyed.
    Or in the words of the illustrious former POTUS, “The Future Must Not Belong To Those Who Slander The Prophet Of Islam”.
    Of course the great Satan does that just by existing but hey, liberals understand this religious stuff better than actual Muslims.
    And anyway they’ll kill you like they tried to do on the 15:17 to Paris if you don’t come around so listen to the voice of reason my friends.

    Mochizuki Koga on February 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      MK, of course, by avoiding El-Khazzani’s backstory, Eastwood has avoided controversy. But that’s missing the point.

      Debbie’s criticism if from a political reality level, whereas my criticism is from the dramatic level. They happen to coincide in this case.

      I’d say it’s a rule of great drama that you can’t simply have a core conflict based on soldier/heroes vs. generic bad guy, which is what Eastwood’s ultimate product is based on Debbie’s summary of the movie. As I’ve pointed out, all of the great, the enduring books, plays, and movies have always included the backstory of the antagonist(s). Including the villain’s backstory in no way diminishes the positive attributes of the protagonist(s) or draws attention away from the heroism of the protagonist(s). On the contrary, the contrast makes the conflict and characters richer and deeper, making for a far better dramatic work.

      So, in avoiding “controversy,” Eastwood has also avoided greatness and I can confidently predict that this movie won’t stand the test of time. This is not to say that the movie won’t receive Oscars. It very well may. But movie history is littered with Oscar winners that have been totally forgotten, while many a great movie has continued to capture the public’s imagination even though no best picture Oscar was won.

      If you can name a great work of drama that has succeeded with a generic bad guy, please let me know because I’ve never seen it before in the countless plays, movies, and novels that I’ve read.

      Ralph Adamo on February 12, 2018 at 4:27 pm

        And to further demonstrate how important Eastwood’s failure was to demonstrate the courage necessary to make his movie into a genuine dramatic work by pitting the heroes against a well-rounded villain character with his own backstory, instead of a generic bad guy, consider the following review from a mainstream movie reviewer I’m quoting below from IMDB:

        “Clint Eastwood turns a terrorist attack into a bit of post-hoc reality “entertainment” with the stunt casting of the actual heroes as themselves in a stilted, tone-deaf piece of Christian-American propaganda.”

        My bottom line here is that if you’re going to be attacked anyway for showing a pro-American, pro-military, pro-Christian, pro-positive values movie, you might as well tell the whole truth, rather than just half of it.

        Ralph Adamo on February 12, 2018 at 5:32 pm

          Ralph, I agree that dramatically you can’t have a strong heroic cast pushing against a cardboard cut out case of some vague extremist person from some vaguely defined religion that could be any religion trying to randomly hack people to death on a train.
          It just doesn’t work dramatically and it’s equally off-putting in real life.
          You pointed that out pretty eloquently in your thoughtful comment and I don’t think I’d disagree with anything you said.
          So the question is art imitating life or vice versa? Because that’s what seems to be happening on and off screen.

          Mochizuki Koga on February 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    The difference between the airplane crash scene in “Sully” and the “Rosebud” in “Citizen Kane” was that the word “Rosebud was a back story, not the main plot, in CK. Back stories have been a common plot device in movies for nearly a century. In “Sully,” by contrast, the crash and rescue scenes (brilliantly done, I might add, aided by CGI effects) was the main event.

    Primetime on February 23, 2018 at 5:32 pm

I managed to sit through the first movie just to see if it got any better – it didn’t. I watched 15 minutes of the 2nd and turned it off – there’s no way I’m even attempting the third. I don’t understand the love for this series. Dakota Johnson is as horrendous an actress as her mother is. Bland, emotionless, monotone voice – every one of her scenes is the same. I hope now that the series is done we no longer see her in any films. She’s welcome to try doing porn but I think she’s pretty much worn out her welcome with that audience as well. She reminds me of Kristin Stewart – and that’s not a compliment. This series is low grade porn. Thats it. Jamie Dornan is only slightly better but at least he has some modulation to his voice and facial expressions – and he is handsome-but it doesn’t give the script or movie any credibility. It’s still soft core porn and not even done well. An as the essay writer I’d say the script and storyline is gawd awful – you can watch this type of ‘acting’ for free on porn internet sets so lets save our money for films that offer decent scripts, good actors/actresses and some sense of morality. Okay?

Hanna Spence on February 12, 2018 at 9:20 am

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