Exciting, Literate Thriller
Release Date: March 09, 2001
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Edward Burns,
Kelsey Grammer, Karel Roden,
Oleg Taktarov, Vera Farmiga,
Avery Brooks, & Melina
Audience: Older teenagers & adults
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: John Herzfeld
Executive Producer: Claire Rudnick Polstein
Producer: David Blocker & John Herzfeld
Writer: John Herzfeld
Address Comments To:Robert Shaye, Chairman/CEO
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
The story opens with two Eastern European criminals, Emil and Oleg, talking their way past immigration officials in New York City. Emil has come to get money from his friend Milos, money from a bank robbery which sent Emil to jail. Before they see Milos, however, Oleg, who loves American movies, especially Frank Capra movies, manages to steal a nice digital camera.
Later, Milos informs Emil that the robbery money is gone, but he offers to give Emil a job as a plumber, which is what Milos now does himself. Emil is extremely hot-headed, however, and he murders Milos and his wife in a fit of rage, then sets fire to their apartment to make their deaths look like an accident.
At the scene of the crime, hotshot homicide detective Eddie Flemming, played by Robert DeNiro, runs into arson investigator Jordy Warsaw, played by Ed Burns. Egged on by his media-conscious boss, Jordy manages to team up with Eddie on the case. As they track down Emil and Oleg, the two men wrangle with each other over how or whether to use the media. When Emil latches onto a plan to use the media to get himself declared insane, he launches an explosion of media and judicial madness that puts Eddie and Jordy’s lives into a tailspin. Meanwhile, Oleg is at Emil’s side, using his stolen camera to document every move Emil makes.
15 MINUTES contains some literate dialogue which illuminates the good and bad of our camera-happy society. It provides a fascinating, sometimes humorous, exploration of television hype, fame and the criminal mind. It also tells an exciting story of a police investigation where justice eventually triumphs over evil.
At the core of this story is DeNiro’s homicide detective. DeNiro plays Eddie as a man who has learned to use the media to make his job easier. Confident and brilliant on air, Eddie hides another side, which DeNiro brings out in a series of sweetly comic scenes depicting Eddie’s nervous preparations for proposing to his newswoman girlfriend. This is one of DeNiro’s best performances in recent years, and he’s been better than usual in his most recent movies. Edward Burns also gives an excellent performance as the young arson investigator. Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov as Emil and Oleg, respectively, make formidable villains. They give the story a strong sense of jeopardy. Their relationship also gives a provocative edge to the movie’s themes of media hype and fame.
Despite its moral worldview, 15 MINUTES does include the kind of strong foul language that peppers most R-rated thrillers from Hollywood. There is also a scene where a prostitute strips to her underpants and offers sex to Emil. The good news, however, is that the movie does not show viewers most of the murders that Emil commits. Only one of them actually takes place in front of the camera. More restraint should have been done, of course, but, still, it was refreshing to see a thriller that’s more interested in presenting an exciting, thrilling story rather than titillating the blood lust of the human race.
All in all, 15 MINUTES is a very entertaining, provocative pop culture achievement.
15 MINUTES contains some literate dialogue which illuminates the good and bad of our camera-happy society. It provides a fascinating, sometimes humorous, exploration of television hype, fame and the criminal mind. It also tells an exciting story of an intense police investigation where justice eventually triumphs over evil. Both DeNiro and Burns are excellent, as are the two actors who play the villains. Despite its moral worldview, however, 15 MINUTES contains plenty of strong foul language throughout and brief sexual content and nudity in one scene. It handles most of the violence with restraint, however.