15 Minutes (2001)

(In theaters, May 2001) The power of the media! The lack of responsibility of current Americans! The failings of the judicial system! The undue respect given to criminal behavior! Big ideas! Bad execution! 15 Minutes has a twist or two that save it from total collapse, but more often than not, it ends up playing like a cartoon with a body count. The caricatural east-European bad guys don’t help, and neither does the oh-so-bad media newsperson. I mean; we’ve seen most of these issues raised as afterthoughts in Die Hard… did we need an entire film dedicated to it? Wit requires subtlety, and 15 Minutes is usually as subtle as a sledgehammer. If anyone escapes from the film with some honor, it’s Ed Burns, turning in a good performance despite a badly-written role that follows the typical cop-turns-psycho arc we’ve come to expect. (It doesn’t make much sense, but then again it rarely does. Other plot threads even disappear in mid-flight.) Good cinematography, and the direction had its moments despite an overuse of “amateur camera” shots. The film’s third quarter is actually quite good, thanks to one hard plot twist and a meanly effective fire action sequence. After that, it just gets sillier, and I don’t think that was the intent of the filmmakers.

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