Directed by John Herzfeld
Running Time: 1:59
Rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality.

Although it had some flaws in it, some major, some minor, overall I enjoyed 15 Minutes because the story wasn't a typical Hollywood story.

Robert De Niro plays NYC cop Eddie Flemming, a popular police officer who has graced the cover of People magazine. Edward Burns plays Arson Investigator Jordy Warsaw. They come together over a fire at an apartment building where two people are found brutally murdered, then set on fire to try and cover up the crime. The only witness is a pretty European girl who happened to be in the apartment when the murders took place. The killers are Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) from the Czech Republic and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov) from Russia, who came to America to get their share of a robbery that went down years ago. When they find that their partner has spent all the money, they kill the partner and his wife. Along the way Oleg picked up a video camera and started filming their adventures because he wants to be a big time film director. As Oleg and Emil kill more and more, the lure of becoming famous and making a lot of money drives them over the edge, and they develop a plan to not be found guilty of their crimes, because they are both insane. But in order to become really famous, they need to kill someone famous.

What I liked about the movie was the sheer brutality that Oleg and Emil create. There is no holding back in this movie. Whether they're stabbing someone, or snapping someone's neck, director John Herzfeld shows it all. I liked the fact that the plot went down certain paths that a regular cops and criminals movie doesn't go. What I didn't like about the movie were numerous. I didn't like the fact that the whole story started simply because these two guys wanted some money, then all of a sudden they turn into vicious killers who then start killing people not to save their own lives, but to become famous. I didn't believe that any news or tabloid journalist would pay someone $1 million for a tape of a murder. No one in their right mind would do something like that, regardless of the ratings it might achieve. I thought the story jumped around a lot. There was this small love story between De Niro's cop and a reporter played by Melina Kanakaredes that had absolutely no reason to be there, and it slowed down the pace of the movie. Thankfully, there were only a couple of scenes dealing with it, but it was still a couple of scenes too much.

I thought De Niro and Burns were good in their roles. I don't think De Niro was playing a role that was too much of a stretch for him as an actor, but regardless he still commanded the screen when he was on. Burns, who is known more for his directing, but is slowly becoming an accomplished actor, held his own against De Niro. He knew better than to try and steal the spotlight from De Niro when they were on screen together, and was happy playing second fiddle until he was able to step out on his own. The two bad guys were the best part of the film. No remorse, no holding back, just pure evil. I hope to see a lot more from these guys in the future.

So if I have more reasons to dislike it than to like it, why did I enjoy it? Because even though it had problems, it was a good movie to sit back and watch. There were some unexpected twists and turns in it that I didn't see coming. The acting was good, and the idea behind the movie was a good one, even if it wasn't pulled off as well as it could have been. If you want a great movie about the media's fascination with violence, check out Man Bites Dog. That movie was the blackest, black comedy I've ever seen, and it was fantastic.

So overall, although it had problems, I enjoyed 15 Minutes. Not everyone will, but whenever I make it through a 2 hour movie without checking my watch to see how much longer it'll be, that's a good sign.

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reviewed 03/11/01

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