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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 Greg Muskewitz

"'15 Minutes' wastes its fame."
2 stars

Two immigrants — one Russian, the other Czech — come to the U.S. to pick up some money from a fellow cohort. The Russian ends up killing the cohort when the money isn’t there and the Czech, obsessed with movies (and Frank Capra) tapes it all on a stolen, dinky digital video camera.

Enter a fire marshal (Edward Burns) and a TV-friendly homicide detective (Robert De Niro) to create an offbeat “team.” The slight variant in this narrative is whose story we actually stick with. Obviously, De Niro is The Lone Ranger, the top-billed, and supposedly stronger link to the story (which in part, is true). He is The Lone Ranger to Burns’ Tonto. However, 15 Minutes shows that the Tonto point-of-view, granted that it has worked as a strength in other movies, does not carry the same succor. Burns’ character, tailored to be more audience-likable, is far less interesting, and doesn't allow the audience to delve into the media and their part in this mess, as it would have been more succinct to do by using De Niro’s insider connections. And when De Niro is no longer with us, the Burns end of the bargain becomes plain-tasting, and the screenplay continues to avoid making any social observations outside of the occasional giant pointy arrow. The only delight here that goes well beyond the realm of this movie, is the performance of Vera Farmiga as Daphne, the witness to the first murder. She disguises herself so well with an adept Ukrainian accent and a red coif, that I spent the entirety of the movie knowing I recognized her, but without knowing from where! (The Opportunists, if you cared.) Farmiga emits a whole new energy that gives the movie a slight propulsion, but one not sufficient enough.

Making a social commentary on how our perception of violence and crime is viewed through the TV and filmic mediums is not an unusual subject; it’s been used in movies as fictionally as Scream 2. But most movies don’t take the time to make that their priority, and it is not the priority here either. In fact, writer/director John Herzfeld is so convinced that 15 Minutes is a social commentary, he forgets to convince us of it at all. Although the proof of such commentary was not asked for on our part (neither, in this case, was the movie), he offers no proper rejoinder. Herzfeld’s images and suggestion of how the media manipulates the public’s thoughts and actions are all tautological; it is as if he is constantly re-highlighting what his purpose or thesis is, but without revising or even writing it. Herzfeld, who had a unique writing/directing start with 2 Days in the Valley, lacks any proof of this bad media and vicarious related obsession, and on top of that, fails to show how the bad effect works, except on the two antagonists. (Yet he still manages to toss in a cameo role for Charlize Theron.) But after all, this is not supposed to be a commentary on how the medium affects foreigners; the tag line suggests differently: “America loves to watch. Instead, when “America” is finally given something to look at (the villains’ compiled “movie,” completed more than three-quarters into this movie), they are so repelled that it contradicts what Herzfeld is writing. It lacks the cleverness and wit one would require to make a good commentary on this subject. It is better just left as kitschy art pretentiously imitating life.

With Karel Roden, Oleg Taktarov and Kelsey Grammer.

[Not to be bothered with.]

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/10/01 07:30:29
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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 Barřn 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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