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Oleg (Oleg Tartakov) and Emil (Karel Rodin) arrive in New York to collect money owed on a crime deal and soon embark on a crime spree. Emil dreams of fame and fortune while Oleg, who idolises Frank Capra, videotapes their crimes. They plan to sell their footage to a tabloid TV show hosted by Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer) and plead not guilty on grounds of insanity caused by childhood abuse. Investigating their spree is celebrity cop Eddie Fleming (Robert De Niro) and fire department detective Jody Warsaw (Edward Burns).

"Ideas far outstrip realisation in 15 Minutes. What starts out as unlikely but intriguing becomes utterly preposterous by the time fun loving duo Oleg and Emil arrive at the quarter hour of fame famously predicted by Andy Warhol. What writer-director John Herzfeld is attempting to say about the barbarism eroding American society is worthwhile; it's a pity his expression of those ideas is delivered so clumsily. Individually the elements are good: a couple of east European killers fed on a diet of American TV junk who decide to film their grisly deeds because this is the land where "no-one has to accept responsibility"; a tabloid TV show driven by the credo "if it bleeds it leads"; and the celebrity cop and his non media savvy "honest" cop partner caught in the middle. It's not too much of a stretch to believe Oleg and Emil could make a financial killing after escaping with light prison terms thanks to laws that can be twisted to make them look like victims. Nor is the willingness of the programme to broadcast the home movie too difficult to accept. What is ridiculous are too many scenes like the one in which the killers sit down at Planet Hollywood during the broadcast and expect to be received as celebrities. There is far too much Natural Born Killers knee-jerk and not enough cogent thesis to make Herzfeld's concerns hit home. An excess of sub-plots that go nowhere and a particularly dire climax to proceedings severely dilute the impact of a story that deserves marks for at least striving to say something substantial but fails when it most needs to succeed. Relentless pacing and solid performances - De Niro phones in his New York cop part but he's still better than most - make this far from dull but it's also too far from convincing in the finer details to make the grade."
Richard Kuipers

ďThe topic of media complicity in violence is a fairly well worn one by now. Oliver Stone probably did it best in his manic, mammoth Natural Born Killers; and while 15 Minutes aspires to something similar, it falls short for the mark. One reason is a muddled script, which canít seem to work out whether it wants to be a police procedural, slasher flick, revenge thriller, media criticism or societal mirror. Finally, it doesnít end up being any of these really successfully. But its main problem is that it appears to revel in the violence about which it seeks to preach. Thereís a major credibility gap between what the film seems to be trying to say and what it actually does. Not that itís a waste of time by any means. 15 Minutes has moments of insight, excitement and even touching sentiment - they just donít gel into a cohesive polemic. Itís certainly a cut above your average crime thriller, both in terms of brains and thrills; and director John Herzfeld and his team do some interesting things with the ďdigitalĒ footage. It also has a terrific central performance from Karel Roden as Emil; surely one of the meanest bad guys to appear on our screens for some time. Edward Burns as the determined but put-upon Jordie is solid, but is clearly outpointed (even with considerably less screen time) by the always-terrific Robert De Niro as his ad hoc partner. Kelsey Grammer is much slimier and nastier than his Frasier persona, and Charlize Theron appears in a cameo role. While 15 Minutes canít be counted as a complete success, it at least tries to make some clever points and deserves credit for that.Ē
David Edwards

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CAST: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Vera Farmiga, Kelsey Grammer

PRODUCERS: Nick Wechsler, Keith Addis, David Blocker, John Herzfeld

DIRECTOR: John Herzfeld

SCRIPT: John Herzfeld

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Yves Escoffier

EDITOR: Steven Cohen

MUSIC: Anthony Marinelli, J. Peter Robinson


RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: January 15, 2002

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