15 Minutes (2001)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Police Detective Film, Media Satire  |   Release Date - Mar 9, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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There's audacity to spare in John Herzfeld's 15 Minutes, a tawdry thriller/media critique that aims for the incisiveness of Natural Born Killers or Network, but comes across only as loud and showy. As the egomaniacal brains behind the killing spree, Karel Roden either sets the tone or gleefully keeps pace, making every gesture over the top and mean-spirited. Looking like an Eastern European Robert Carlyle, Roden smokes his cigarettes with a fiendish fetishism that smacks of too many acting classes. Robert De Niro and Edward Burns are also mostly pomp and show as the police and arson investigators improbably partnered on the case. Still, there's an undeniable adrenaline to this sometimes surprising film, which provides cheap thrills and prompts a modicum of grudging respect. Herzfeld's handling of Roden's partner in crime, played by Oleg Taktarov, suggests this might actually be a winking semi-parody, justifying the director's cartoonish lack of restraint. Taktarov's character displays such childlike fascination with looking through the viewfinder and "playing director" that he doesn't care what the subject matter is, even at the expense of his underlying decency. When he keeps the camera rolling during the ridiculous dénouement, framed against the Statue of Liberty, the hoots and hollers from the audience are probably intended. Herzfeld's exaggerated point is delivered with a hammer blow, but he does make it.