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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.22%
Worth A Look: 20.62%
Average: 16.49%
Pretty Bad31.96%
Total Crap: 23.71%

9 reviews, 43 user ratings

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15 Minutes
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by Scott Weinberg

"OK, all together now: Real Violence Bad! Movie Violence Good!"
3 stars

You ever hear the term 'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing'? Well, here's the movie that proves it. I'd propose that 15 Minutes undergo a title change, partially because the Andy Warhol quote that the current title is borne from is never ONCE mentioned in the film, but mainly I just think that something like 'Belaboring a Tired Point' would be a better fit for this lurid, obvious, bombastic and ultimately predictable movie.

While 15 Minutes offers more than enough entertainment to warrant your attention, writer/director John Herzfeld (2 Days in the Valley) seems to have a higher agenda. John has recently discovered that "Hey! America's a pretty nasty place" and he goes about repeating that one tired issue about a dozen times. In between brutal murders, familiar shootuouts and nasty stabbings, of course.

Interested in seeing a challenging movie about how America celebrates its criminals? Go rent Natural Born Killers. There's a movie that doesn't pull its punches in an effort to insert a few transparent 'action scenes', as 15 Minutes does. Honestly, I can't remember the last movie I saw that was so deserving of the word schizophrenic. 15 Minutes easily has 15 subplots, 15 unnecessary scenes and is 'inspired' by about 15 other movies.

That's not to say you won't be able to get behind this one as a guilty pleasure. There's a noticable chemistry between DeNiro and Edward Burns. I appreciated that the two villains were played by unknown foreign actors. And if you listen carefully between the cliches, you may catch a few snippets of clever dialogue. On the surface, 15 Minutes is a somewhat clever and diverting piece of entertainment.

Robert DeNiro plays a 'celebrity cop' named Eddie Flamming. (Um, maybe I missed something, but are there really celebrity cops all over America? If so, there's another reason I'll continue to use my television solely for DVDs.) While on the case of an apparent murder/arson, he teams up with an unlikely partner - an arson inspector called Jordy Warsaw, played by Edward Burns. Kelsey Grammer plays a vulgar and morally bankrupt tabloid anchor who is more than willing to air the depraved actions of these psychos and make millions. After exploiting the deaths of innocent Americans, how does he get his come-uppance? He gets punched in the face right before the credits roll. This from a movie that purports no easy answers to America's fascination with violence. It's a true shame when a few smart ideas are drowned in a sea of cliche.

After discovering the identities of the murderers, things get really wacky. It turns out that these killers are two loopy foreigners who have hatched an ironic plan: To go on a brutal crime spree while filming everything, get caught, plead insanity and then make millions on their story. Just like ALL we Americans do! It's a clever idea, but Herzfeld shoots mostly blanks by belaboring the same points ad nauseum. He also consistently undermines his own messages by shooting his film as a grim, violent and nasty movie that will appeal most to the very sickos it's meant to be denegrating!

Unfortunately, Herzfeld has an agenda of maybe three overbaked points to make, and boy does he! This is a movie that makes knowing points early on, and then the remainder of the movie is just beating these points home again. Hey, America is a vile, sweat-soaked whorehouse, fit only for criminals, compatriots and the ghouls willing to make millions off of them. Corruption is everywhere (except for the fire department, obviously)! It's too bad that Herzfeld's script veers so wildly away from reality at any given point, since reality is apparently what he's out to ridicule.

And for a movie so caught up in being timely, there are simply WAY too many stock scenes - as in scenes you've seen about three dozen times before. I cringed as DeNiro was about to propose to his girlfriend, only to be interrupted by her cell phone ringing, which of course prompts her to get up and leave for work, muttering some brilliant dialogue like "I gotta go, hun! This is my big break! We'll talk about this tonight when you get home from work!" Um, if you can't tell where dialogue like this is leading, you simply need to see more movies.

The intermittent action sequences are shot in a rather exciting fashion, even if they are more silly than thrilling. (DeNiro in a FOOT his age? That's just cruel.) And apparently several audience members had trouble buying a Deputy Fire Inspector as the big action hero. Of course, there's the scene where Burns throws his (fireman's) badge down and goes off to fight crime. I was not alone in my giggling.

On the plus side, you really should congratulate a modern movie that tries to skewer our nation's obsession with fame and how we basically let all our inmates run the North American asylum. But more often than not, 15 Minutes actually becomes the kind of sensationalistic silliness that it's obviously trying to lampoon. It's tough to get behind the well-argued points of a movie that ultimately is just a big, loud hypocrite.

15 Minutes would have seemed a hell of a lot smarter if it had been released say 5 years ago. Although it contains more than a handful of good ideas, the whole concept is just nothing new. Given the current state of American cinema, it's nice to see a movie that's not ultra-PC, but 15 Minutes is basically just too safe, a mildly diverting combo of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, David Fincher's Seven and even Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon series. Herzfeld obviously wants to have his cake (violence = bad!) and eat it too (violence = a happy audience). A little smarter and more original, and you'd have a mini-classic. As it stands, you'll remember this movie for about as long as the title suggests.

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originally posted: 03/12/01 05:20:13
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell brutal & entertaing 4 stars
7/28/09 Dane Youssef While the themes aren't as radical as they once were, this is still one worth seeing. 4 stars
4/06/07 brent gerald mejia sr. A good one-time-watch movie. 4 stars
3/06/07 Sambadi Atrociously stupid. An unbelievable piece of trash for conservative retards. 1 stars
1/28/07 action movie fan compelling and exciting--gusty guy film 2001,s best film 5 stars
8/30/05 ES This and city by the sea, not De Niro's best roles for sure 3 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig For people who love sensless violence and weak storylines 3 stars
3/08/04 john bale Some slick action and two suitably nasty villains what more do you need ? 3 stars
3/08/04 Monster W. Kung "Energetic", "interesting". Yeah, right. Sommersby, you suck. 1 stars
6/13/03 Jim Looks like the usual buddy/chase movie, then goes in a different direction 5 stars
6/12/03 your worse goddamn nightmare this movie kicked ass! i loved those two european actors! 4 stars
5/29/03 Ben Critics and reviewers take things too seriously, you guys gotta relax. 4 stars
5/28/03 JoeSco eventful and Burns is good - Look out for Noelle Evans - Shue lookalike and how ! 3 stars
4/17/03 The Mule One of the worst movies I've seen in a long long time (and I've seen some real stinkers) 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Implausible but energetic, interesting stuff. DeNiro's best work since "Heat". 3 stars
3/12/03 Artist Freak Exactly, Chiendog. This movie stole twohours of my life and I want it back! 1 stars
1/23/03 Chiendog Hypocritical-Revels in the same senseless media violence it purports to condemn. 1 stars
1/17/03 Chiendog Uses violence as entertainment to condemn violence as entertainment. Give me a break! 1 stars
6/23/02 Dark Barøn Unfortunatly it represents very well today's tabloid media. 3 stars
6/18/02 7of9 Media will assimilate anything if it's bloody... 3 stars
6/05/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi kick butt!! 5 stars
5/16/02 Kent Between 2 & 3 stars - kept my attention, but nothing special. oh-hum. 3 stars
3/06/02 Monster W. Kung Awful! Must be DeNiro's worst to date. 1 stars
11/12/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) REALLY clever. Fuck all you people. 4 stars
9/04/01 seldom scene burns's character is unbelievable, good for a tv movie 3 stars
8/28/01 davd yeah, Vera was the highlite, the clear blue against all that blood 3 stars
8/23/01 TWODOGS Di Niro is back! 4 stars
8/21/01 Monday Morning Heavy handed but the media satire was way too unsubtle. 4 stars
7/06/01 SeStA it had flaws,but they made the film more interesting, you looked at it from diff angels 5 stars
6/12/01 Mina Oak This film makes to think about something beyond the camera, and the reason. 4 stars
6/06/01 Pierce Lanson Are Americans afreid to accept that this film might just tell it like it is? 5 stars
5/23/01 Archibld This is a great film if you don't like the media. 4 stars
5/21/01 dylan ugly, mean-spirited and totally vacuous as satire 1 stars
5/14/01 Vanessa Clunky, obvious, dated concept and a complete mess. 1 stars
4/08/01 Andrew Deikun Below Average, unoriginal 2 stars
4/03/01 Dave Great entertainment and something to dig the yanks about 5 stars
4/03/01 kohawk not too shabby. 4 stars
3/16/01 ike23 Our society is going to create more people with thismentality;it'ssomeone elsesfault I kill 4 stars
3/14/01 Ashley Morrison I liked this movie b/c of it's faults. It wasn't hard hitting, but it was fun. 4 stars
3/12/01 Megaflix This is one pathetic film, make sure you don't see this 1 stars
3/12/01 poetchuck Good entertainment some interesting surprises 4 stars
3/10/01 jon j Funny and clever with great performances by all 5 stars
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  09-Mar-2001 (R)


  24-May-2001 (M)

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