HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: 15 Minutes
HTS Overall Score:76
I feel like “15 Minutes” has come out on home video once more at a ridiculously poignant time. “15 Minutes” Originally came out in 2001, when studios and studio heads were under a lot of pressure to tame the violence being shown on the silver screen, only for them to blatantly make a movie about people filming their violent actions on camera and trying to profit off of them. At the same time the movie tried to act a social commentary towards the media and their rabid love of slapping killer’s faces across the news and, almost idolizing them. Fast forward 14 years and the commentary rings sickeningly true as our modern media fuels mass killers desires for their “15 Minutes” of fame by plastering every gruesome story of carnage and mayhem across the new, to act as a tantalizing treat for the next deranged psychopath.
We have a sort of good cop, bad cop film here, as Detective Eddie Fleming is sort of a local hero in New York City. Praised and interviewed by the media, the celebrity cop manhandles criminals and the news channels adore him for his publicity. Sleazy News Anchor, Robert Hawkins, will stop at nothing to get a good story and blatantly abuses his press privileges, willing to slap anything on the air for a good rating. Eddie just so happens to be perfect for the job (when he’s not drinking, which isn’t very often). On the other side of the coin we have Fire Marshall Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns), a by the books arson investigator who comes into contact with Eddie on a homicide where the victims were burned together in their apartment after being stabbed to death. Both respecting but not really liking each other, the two law officers have to band together to find out just who committed the murder.
Unfortunately for the public, our murderers are not done killing just yet. 2 Eastern European nationals named Emil (Karl Rodan) and Oleg (Oleg Taktarov) have come to America to find their partner in crime from years earlier (the burned to a crisp victim with his wife), only to find out that while they are in prison their partner has spent all the loot. Emil ends up slaughtering his ex-partner in a fit or range, while Oleg videotapes their death. Seeing a news story where a recent criminal killer was allowed to go free on a charge of temporary insanity and even has a book deal on the table, the two nimwits (or really maybe brilliant, I don’t know) decide to go on a killing spree, documenting their kills as they go in the hopes of getting off on insanity charges and making millions in the process.
“15 Minutes” very obviously is trying to use social commentary in the filmmaking process. It’s so in your face it would be impossible to miss. Kelsey Grammer’s sleazy executive role just oozes with the kind of loathsome qualities that come from a comic book. He’s willing to sacrifice dignity and propriety for, in his own words, “anything that will sell”. If it bleeds it leads is one of his first lines. Oleg and Emil are also a bit comedic (in a non-humorous way) in their goals for success. As much as we like to be cynical and say that every villain with a good lawyer gets off on insanity charges, it really isn’t that common. But the film churns over and over on the fact that these two guys are as sane as can be, wanting riches and the fame that killing offers them. Or are they really that sane? Numerous killers in today’s world do the exact same thing. Maybe not expecting to get rich, but certainly expecting fame. We had a killer shoot 9 people in a college campus up in Oregon a week ago, and his parting written words were claiming the same thing. No one knew who he was before, but believe me they would after this.
The social commentary attached to the media’s brazen disregard for “news” and instead focusing on entertainment still rings true today. Said killers are attracted to the media circus that happens when every news channel is clamoring to plaster a man’s face up on every TV and newsstand in the country to get ratings or sell papers. That twisting of the “news” leads to exactly what the movie sees. People killing and doing what it takes to get that same 15 minutes of fame that the other guy got.
The film does have its weak points, and as much as I admire and actually agree with much of the social commentary, the heavy handed way that it is laid out in the film raised controversy when it came out and still does today. It’s so thick and so heavy you have to literally spread it like peanut butter, and every bite has it just oozing down the viewers arm. De Niro and Burns have some solid chemistry, but the underlying bleak aspect of the movie doesn’t allow for lighthearted buddy buddy humor to ease the depressing nature of the commentary. It’s a good movie, but just a tad rough.
Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55386[/img]The 2.40:1 AVC encoded movie looks good, very much like the old New Line Infinifilm edition (I hated that stupid line) which makes me assume there hasn’t been a new master. Colors are good and strong, with rich saturation and some great contrast with the dreary New York City landscape. The contrast seems to be a bit flat, which gives a pasty look to the faces and skin tones. There’s some noticeable edge enhancement, although nothing major. Facial detail and overall clarity look more than sufficient, and the black levels don’t really have anything wrong with them either. It’s a good overall image, but nothing that will knock you over.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55394[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA English track is rather well done, though. Dialog is crisp and clear , and there is some rather decent surround usage during the action sequences. Gun shots sound appropriately weighty, and the frenetic sounds of New York are loud and aggressive. The LFE channel adds some nice heft to the overall sound and there are a couple of great moments where the pant legs are a flapping. Surround channels get average use of natural ambiance, and gives a decent level of immersion. Sometimes I felt the mix got pushed a little too far forward for my tastes, but it’s a mild nitpick. Overall the track is impressive, and matches up well to the old DVD, just with some nicely added fidelity.
• Feature Length Audio Commentary with Director John Herzfeld
• Behind the Scenes Featurettes
• Delete Scenes With Directors Commentary
• Oleg's Videso: Video Footage Captures from the Actor's Perspective
• God Lives Underwater Music Video "Fame"
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Screen Test
“15 Minutes” sometimes loses itself in the flair for the dramatic, but it is still a rather entertaining action movie. It has less of the humor that helps ease the pain of most action movie in the late 90’s/early 2000s, but this was back when Robert De Niro still gave a little bit of effort in his roles, so the power star helps smooth out some of the wrinkles. Audio and video are quite good for a release that doesn’t appear to have had too much work done on it, and the extras are solid, if not ported over from the DVD. Definitely worth a watch.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer, Avery Brooks, Vera Farmiga
Directed by: John Herzfeld
Written by: John Herzfeld
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish (Castllian) DD 5.1, Spanish (Latin) DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 121 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 13th 2015
Buy 15 Minutes On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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