When Eastern European criminals Oleg and Emil come to New York City to pick up their share of a heist score, Oleg steals a video camera and starts filming their activities, both legal and illegal. When they learn how the American media circus can make a remorseless killer look like the victim and make them rich, they target media-savvy NYPD Homicide Detective Eddie Flemming and media-naive FDNY Fire Marshal Jordy Warsaw, the cops investigating their murder and torching of their former criminal partner, filming everything to sell to the local tabloid TV show "Top Story." Written by
Jeff Cross <email@example.com>
This movie took a severe beating in the press and most reviews, so I wasn't expecting much when I went to see it. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and reassured that my distrust of what the newspaper reviewers think is not misplaced.
This movie has a cast that includes the supremely talented Robert de Niro, Kelsey Grammar, and Edward Burns. It has some excellent writing and some top-notch acting performances. But its real accomplishment is how it makes you think.
The increasing relationship between crime and the media is not linear, and the movie does tend to oversimplify at times. In many respects, it suffers horribly from being predictable, although there were instances where it strayed sharply from the "rules" of formulaic movies. (Saying any more on that score would give away important aspects of the plot, so I'll refrain from elaborating.) Furthermore, in true Hollywood tradition, the main villains are dumb, completely amoral, and oh, did I mention foreign? The idea might have been to give an outsider perspective on the abuse of American culture, but that angle ultimately just plays into outdated audience prejudices against people who speak with an Eastern European accent.
Too, the movie has very graphic violence - but not as bad as I'd expected, and not as bad as what is shown in many other movies. Through creative camera angles, many of the bloodiest scenes are only obscurely hinted at, leaving the audience to fill in the pieces.
Not surprisingly, many entertainment reviewers disliked the movie, because it has the effect of exposing some of the more negative effects of the media. "15 Minutes" does not claim that the media causes violence; rather, it explains that the interplay between the two is ingrained in American culture. This movie may not be saying anything original, but it is sufficiently entertaining and thought-provoking to make it worth seeing.
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