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"15 Minutes"

Directed by John Herzfeld.
Written by John Herzfeld.
Starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  3/1/01 


What up?  Yeah, it is rare that I find the energy to write twice in two days, but when you got the juice, you got the juice!!

Tricia "Hot" Ocampo once again sent out freebies to a preview flick, and this time it was the Robert De Niro/Edward Burns thriller "15 Minutes."  I love De Niro, so I will see him in almost anything (note, ALMOST anything...I skipped that flick he was in two years ago called "Flawless" and all I have heard is bad things about it).  Two foreign criminals named Oleg (Oleg Taktarov) and Emil (Karel Roden) come to New York City to collect money from a friend that has been holding the money while the two were in prison.  However, this so-called friend spent all the money, and this understandably pisses off Emil so much that he murders the man in his apartment...while being videotaped by Oleg, a wanna-be film director.  To cover up the crime, Emil torches the apartment, which brings together the city's top homicide detective (De Niro) and one of the city's top arson detectives (Burns) to solve the case.

But, that is only the beginning of the film, which has a few twists and turns that really make this a great, unpredictable crime movie.  The performances of the criminals--which take up almost as much time as the Burns/De Niro sequences--are very, very good; as mismatched as a twosome can get, the Czech Roden and the Russian Taktarov are volatile at varying turns, with Taktarov being as intense as anyone I've seen in a movie in a while.  To think that both of these guys are in their first film is pretty amazing; they help make their scenes very lively and surprisingly, very funny.  As for Burns and De Niro, I enjoyed their partnership and although you know that De Niro has played this role many times before, he makes it interesting as the seasoned Detective Flemming.

And, there are more "Holy shit, isn't that..." actors and actresses in this movie than any in recent memory.  By using Kelsey Grammar, Avery Brooks, Charlize Theron, and that guy that played Eddie on the TV show "Family Matters", there are a lot of faces that normally don't appear in movies like this and that makes "15 Minutes" all the more interesting.

It's not perfect, though; while its second half is a roller coaster ride, the first half is periodically too dry.  And, the script does stretch the limits of the imagination at times, but one can believe that the American people are a bunch of mindless drones who will watch anything on TV if it is sensational enough.  If we can make "Survivor" our most watched television series ever, then I for one can believe that we will sit in a bar, drink gin-and-tonics and watch real-life videos of people getting stabbed to death.

My roommate Chuck and I had pretty much the same impression of the film after leaving the theater--not an Opening Weekend, but a pretty solid, entertaining film.

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09