15 Minutes (R) No Rating

Review Date: March 9th, 2001

NYC's finest must stop two Eurotrash nutcases who, seeking fame and fortune in America, embark on a vicious killing spree.


Clever Czech Emil (Karel Roden) migrates to the States to hunt down an old friend who stole $1 million from him. He's accompanied by his I-wanna-be-Frank-Capra buddy Oleg (Oleg Taktarov), who swipes a video camera within minutes of hitting U.S. soil. After killing the friend and his wife for spending the money (Oleg catches the gruesome murder on tape), quick-thinker Emil concocts his own version of a get-rich-quick scheme - by making the medium the message. He'll videotape his murder of NYPD's beloved top cop Eddie Flemming (Robert De Niro), sell the tape to a top-rated tabloid show and plead insanity to avoid prison. Meanwhile, Eddie, a homicide dick so friendly with reporters he's dating one (Melina Kanakaredes), pursues the killers with help from arson investigator Jordy (Edward Burns) and crime witness Daphne (Vera Farmiga).


Though De Niro has only played a cop three other times in his long career, he's so well suited to the role it seems like he's done it many times over, turning in a solid performance as the extroverted, media-wise Eddie. But Ed Burns as his introverted opposite chews the scenery like he's never eaten before - he'd get the award for most over-the-top, if it weren't already nabbed by Kelsey Grammer as the scumbag TV exec who spews blasphemy like it was going out of style. In fact, everyone in this movie is so pissed off you'll leave the theater ready to rip somebody's head off.


Subtlety is certainly not writer/director John Herzfeld's ("2 Days in the Valley") strong suit. This film's concept could have been intriguing, if its fame-is-wicked iconography weren't shoved down one's throat at every turn - we get it, already. Jarring, flashy camera cuts are all too frequently interspersed with grainy, herky-jerky POVs of killings from Oleg's viewfinder (over which whines screeching Russian violin music). The entire movie is unpleasantly in your face, from its brain-numbing brutality to its angry, screaming actors to its overwrought story that has more false endings than John Travolta's career. Not to mention some scenes so mind-bogglingly preposterous you start wondering if you're watching a black comedy instead of an action thriller.

Bottom Line

The two-hours-too-long "15 Minutes" will give you a headache that'll last all day.