In 15 MINUTES, Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov), a self-styled Frank Capra, has
just landed in the USA and is ready to make a "great American movie with
what America wants -- sex and violence." With the camcorder that he stole
in broad daylight from a Times Square electronics store, he has the
wherewithal to make his magnum opus if he can just find the right subject
material. Given that he has arrived with fellow crook Emil Slovak (Karel
Roden), a murderous miscreant, material will not prove a problem. (Roden is
such a dead ringer for TRAINSPOTTING's Robert Carlyle that many moviegoers
may misidentify him.)
The action starts when Emil commits a double murder as Oleg films it. Most
of the rest of the movie has Oleg and Emil trying to keep the only witness,
Daphne (Vera Farmiga), from revealing their identity. Chasing Oleg and Emil
are two cops, Eddie (Robert De Niro) and Jordy (Edward Burns). Following
the typical buddy cop formula, they start off at odds, but end up best buds.
The cigar-chomping, wise-cracking, hard-drinking and (literally)
hard-driving Eddie is a homicide detective who is so famous that he has had
his picture on the cover of People magazine. This high profile cop dates a
rising network news star. When Eddie speaks, New York City listens. And
when people find out he's on the double murder case, the large newspaper
headlines reassuringly proclaim, "Eddie's On The Job."
In contrast to the telegenic Eddie, Jordy is an arson investigator used to
working behind the scenes and never getting into any trouble. Well, there
was this one time when he handcuffed a mugger to a tree in Central Park and
forgot about him, but other than that minor infraction, Jordy is a cop who
has always kept his nose clean. The catalyst that brings this unlikely cop
pair together is the fire that Emil sets to hide the evidence after the
"I love America," Emil decides after overdosing on television shows like
"Roseanne." "No one is responsible for what they do." With this knowledge,
Oleg's tape and help from a sleazy newsmagazine host, Robert Hawkins (Kelsey
Grammer), Emil devises what he believes to be a foolproof scheme to gain
fame, fortune and freedom. Hawkins, whose motto is "If it bleeds, it
leads," is always ready to sell his soul if the price is right.
Written and directed by John Herzfeld (2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY), the uneven
movie has trouble deciding what kind of picture it wants to be. At first,
it goes for light comedic drama, and the parts of the bad guys could easily
have been played by Robin Williams in his full comedic schtick mode. This
light heartedness gives way to an intense and sometimes quite violent crime
drama. The intriguing movie works in fits and spurts but keeps you with it
even with some troubling logical problems. The criminals kill some
witnesses but not others, and the cops are slow to call for proper backup.
Still, De Niro and Burns are both terrific, so it is a movie whose flaws can
be easily overlooked.
15 MINUTES runs two hours. It is rated R for strong violence, language and
some sexuality and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes