Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Film Violence That's Simply Made for TV Uneven Look at Fame Gained in Crime Spree

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Film Violence That's Simply Made for TV Uneven Look at Fame Gained in Crime Spree

Article excerpt

15 Minutes/**1/2 out of 4

15 Minutes is probably the best mediocre movie you'll see all year. You'll pick it to pieces later, but danged if it isn't fun -- in a tense, squirmy, violent way -- while you're watching it.

It's about a couple of Eastern European tourists/serial killers who become the darlings of the tabloid media, exemplified here by a particularly sleazy TV host played by Kelsey Grammer. He does a nifty, nasty spin on his familiar Frasier persona -- his pompousness has absolutely no cuddly qualities here.

And it's cool to see Robert De Niro cruising as a "celebrity" cop named Eddie Flemming, who takes under his wing a dogged arson investigator played, with flair, by Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen).

Then there are a couple of excellent bad guys, the scum at the top of that pool of Eastern European movie villains Hollywood turns to so often these days.

15 Minutes, though, doesn't have anything new to say about violence and mass media -- so much has been said, who could come up with something fresh? And it's more than occasionally heavy-handed, beginning with that

title.

It would be easy to write it all off.

Still . . .

There's little doubt that writer-director John Herzfeld (2 Days in the Valley), helped immeasurably by the cool camera work of Jean Yves Escoffier, has created a yarn that feels urgent and energetic, even when you know he's just pushing your buttons.

Herzfeld is out to entertain, to grab you, to keep you off-balance. And he does just that, beginning with an unsettling opening that introduces us to our psychopathic villains, passing through customs in New York.

One's a shaved-head, twitchy rodent named Emil Slovak (Czech actor Karel Roden, who could make a career out of this kind of villain).

Emil, once stateside, watches a couple of hours of pathetic daytime TV talk shows, then pronounces: "I love America. …

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