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Fifteen Minutes  

Fifteen minutes was all that I needed to realize that I was in trouble watching this fiasco of a film. 15 Minutes is about two Eastern European criminals who come to the United States to retrieve money that is owed to them by a former partner in crime. When they find out their partner has spent the money that he owes them, they kill him. One commits the murders while the other films them on a video camera. The men burn down the apartment to hide the evidence of the crime. They then check in to a hotel and watch daytime TV. By watching one episode of the Roseanne Barr talk show and an interview with a killer who made millions in book and movie rights off of his crimes because he was never tried because he was found insane, they devise a plan to kill a famous person and videotape it. The thought being that they can plead insanity and not go to jail. Yes they are in this country for two days and thanks to television, already they are legal experts on how our justice system works.

Robert De Niro plays a famous NYPD detective who has solved many high profile cases and gives exclusives to a tabloid TV journalist played by Kelsey Grammer. De Niro shows up at the crime scene and meets Ed Burn's character. Burns plays a Fire Department arson investigator. They were going for the oldvs.young, police vs. fire department thing but it never took hold. The two men work on solving the murder and both are caught in the videotape killers' plans.
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The villains are the stupidest, poorly thought out most ridiculous that I have seen in a long time. As they are coming through customs one of them states that the reason he wanted to come to America was the fact that he saw It's a Wonderful Life as a child. He even remembered the director's name. Yeah a poor kid from Russia who doesn't know English will remember Frank Capra. Yawn!!! To make matters worse, he starts throwing around director commands as he films the murders. He exclaims "Cut! Print! Wrap!" as he films a man getting shot. Another scene where he is filming someone getting killed he changes angle. " I need better lighting" Somthing else that is an indicator of a bad unresearched script is the fact that they are supposed to be poor Russian immigrants, yet they stay in 42nd St hotels and apartments. Poor immigrants do get to go in hotels or apartments in Times Square unless they are cleaning them. A decent midtown hotel will run about $160-230 per night. The russians arent the only poorly thought out characters. The celebrity status of the Robert De Niro cop character is so unbelievable it's funny. He is popular enough to be on the cover of People Magazine. I have lived in New York all my life and I don't know of any cop famous enough to be on magazine covers.

De Niro is very blah in this film. He does yet another self-parody of his tough guy image by practicing a proposal in the mirror ala Taxi Driver. So to recap he has now parodied himself or a famous character he has portrayed in four of his last six movies. It has gotten very stale. Ed Burns does the best he can with what he had to work with but because he dosen't have good source material it doesn't come off well.

The real problem with this film is that it is trying to be cutting edge and make an important statement about our society. It tries to state how the media increasingly effects and manipulates our views on crime and how it causes crimes to happen by attention starved people who desire fame at any cost. They failed because unless you are living under a rock you can kind of make that conclusion yourself. Also there have been several films to make this same conclusion already. It's a done topic. We are also shown how the media will stoop to any level to get ratings by having them air footage that is equivalent to a cop torture/snuff film. It is simply unbelievable that the news media would never be allowed to air this type of footage.

15 minutes is a horrible film. Poor plot, unbelievable villains and heavily retread subject matter made this one of the least enjoyable films that I have seen in a long, long time. On a 1 to 10 it gets a two. Avoid it like the Plague.

Paul Ferris

Wheel Deal Review

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