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15 Minutes

Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns (I),Vera Farmiga, Kelsey Grammer ,Melina Kanakaredes, Karel Rodin, and Oleg Taktarov
Directed by: John Herzfeld

Why would DeNiro agree to do this overtly commercial, slow paced— disguised as fast paced—choppy, roaming, seamless, exploit flick? Movies are fantasy...true. But when you painstakingly set up your characters, sets and over all ambiance to be real and lifelike, it only goes that the story should also continue believable. Believable dialog. Believable reactions. Believable consequences. Like Traffic pulled off.

15 Minutes' screenplay veered off into No Man's Land. The two lead's Rob DeNiro and Edward Burns seemed almost bored and in need of a nice big black cup o' joe.

In contrast the two bad guys, Karel Rodin and Oleg Taktarov, were the ying to their yang. They were electric. Good Steven Seagal-esque villains complete with Boris and Natashia accents. But too "all over the place" to be taken too seriously.

15 Minutes' story goes...two tough ex-con visitors from Eastern Europe waltz through our iron tough US Customs area and begin their all-American vacation. The creepier one, Emil (Karel Rodin) is on a revenge mission. The "which way did he go George" one, Oleg (Oleg Taktarov), is a big fan of Frank Capra and dreams of making movies...

They are both are two potatoes short of a Red Square bushel quite frankly.

After stealing a lovely state of the art video recorder the dumber of the evil dumb and dumber team, Oleg, video tapes his non compos mentis pal Emil butchering an old chum from the motherland. Then to cover their murderous tracks they set a flame the whole NYC brownstone in which the chop job took place ...

Ah, but there's a witness...

Enter Fire Marshall Jordy (Edward Burns). But he's a tad late. Homicide celebrity cop (think a better looking Kojak) Eddie Flemming (Bob DeNiro) is already on the scene.

The two go mano-o-mano and conclude it is indeed arson. And since one of the corpses has something like forty hard stab wounds complete with a tip of a knife wedged into their spine, it's safe to conclude it's murder too. Which means now the Marshall and the cop team up---yeah. Why? Well, they just gotta solve this crime...

Meanwhile...While hiding out in a seedy NYC hotel, the two wanna be auteurs begin the hunt for their witless witness when, oops-a-daisie, Emil has murdered again!

It's okay, Oleg has again video taped the man's violent crime. Then whacky comedic actor/murderer Emil has a brilliant, if mad, idea. Sell their "films" to a TV station and make a million dollars like all the murderous not-to-blame- criminals before them.

Emil says proudly, as you can almost see the quintessential lightbulb illuminating above his sweaty scalp, " In America no one is responsible for their actions ."

Exploiter journalist Hawkins (Kelsey " I'd do anything to shed the Frasier MO...what DeNiro? I'm in! " Grammer) is offered an exclusive to air the two Bolshevik's snuff film on his seedy show.

But it's not just the snuff of the unknowns mentioned above. The two psychos have gone to casting A list NYC celebrities in their murderous films. For Hawkins they produce a snuff of one of the cities most popular celebrities, video taped as they took his life, violently and slowly. Hawkins agrees to air the star studded snuff piece. AS IF.

Yes, we are a bad little society. A society that glorifies it's criminals. Makes celebrities of monsters. Natural Born Killers did a better job at giving us that message. 15 Minutes force-feeds us morality without much entertainment to disguise it's sermon. Victims have no rights. This is a sad American, no world -wide fact. But we are " America, land of free— because of your defense attorney who found the loophole." 15 Minutes tries to exploit this morbid desire we have with serial killers and viscous felons, but, instead it loses it's way and confuses the matter with too many nonrealistic scenarios; a couple of blatantly obvious killers that attach in large police filled crowds, a TV show that airs snuff films and of course a fireman, er, Marshall— a non-cop cop— who packs a Dirty Harry piece and fires at will. Come on.

(A Fire Marshall packing a big gun. Is that true? I have never been privy to behind the scenes at the fire station...do they have their boss packing heat? 357 magnum style heat? )

It's not exactly top-secret that DeNiro is one of our finest actors. But even Mr. Expressive couldn't save this long social message stitched into a blatantly commercial film. The story around him simply collapsed. Weighed down by too many couldn't - wouldn't - what kind of bullsheet is that now - scenarios. Bobby, Bobby, Bobby...

Say it with me...rental.

Snack recommendation: Hamburgers with Coke, no Pepsi.

 

 

 

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