Thursday, March 29, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 121



'15 Minutes' teams De Niro, Burns 
in action-packed media thriller

15 Minutes

Starring Robert De Niro, Edward Burns
4 stars
New Line Cinema

Rated R

By Michelle Norton
Daily Cougar Staff

For those of you who have picked up a remote control recently, you probably have noticed the onslaught of afternoon talk shows that feature a man pretending to be a woman, a man sleeping with his brother's wife or a grandmother galloping around town in her skimpy unmentionables.

Despite the fact that many of these shows serve no purpose and waste what would otherwise be perfectly good airtime for say, news, people still watch them. 

Why is that?

In the new high-speed thriller, 15 Minutes, director John Herzfeld attempts to answer that question as he takes a startling look at the important role television plays in America and the lengths that people will go to become part of it.

Set smack dab in the middle of America's media hub, New York City, Herzfeld takes viewers on a non-stop thrill-ride through its crime-ridden streets, dingy apartment buildings and dangerous parks.

Phillip V. Caruso/New Line Cinema

Melina Kanakaredes co-stars as Robert De Niro's love interest in the action thiller, 15 Minutes.

Known for his work on the film Don King: Only in America and the television show Tales from the Crypt, Herzfeld uses in-your-face action sequences and stomach turning camera movements to simulate the fast-paced life of a celebrity.

Viewers are first introduced to two fame-seekers when they are taken into an airport and see two out-of-place men waiting in line. The first man, Emil Slovak, played by Karel Roden, is giddy as a schoolboy as he takes pictures of random women. The other, Oleg Razgul, played by Oleg Taktarov, is straight-faced as he tries to restrain his friend from calling attention to them.

From the moment we first meet them, we know trouble is just around the corner. Their short tempers and irrational reactions to questions from an airport employee make them time-bombs ready to explode.

Case in point. While they make their way to collect some money from a former partner in a heist, Slovak stops to steal a camera because he wants to make a movie. And that's when the search for money and fame begins.

Next on the scene is Eddie Flemming, played by two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro, who is a New York homicide detective and local celebrity.

Flemming has been featured in People Magazine and is well known for his work on high-profile homicides. De Niro easily fills the role of a New York cop with sarcastic quips and split-second comedic timing. Flemming is definitely a man's man. We first meet him as he immerses his head into a sink of ice water to cure a hangover.

Flemming is called in to work an apartment fire where two bodies were found. Arson investigator Jordy Warsaw, played by Saving Private Ryan's Ed Burns, who has jurisdiction over the fire, meets Flemming with some resistance.

Warsaw, unlike Flemming, does not understand the duality of media's power, but learns it quickly after he discovers the fire was more than just an accident and finds himself teaming up with Flemming. Together they discover that murder and fame can turn out to be a deadly combination.

15 Minutes also stars Kelsey Grammer of Frasier, who portrays tabloid news anchor Robert Hawkins, a man who stops at nothing in the ratings war.

Depicting the more serious side of television is Melina Kanakaredes, who stars as Nicolette, a television reporter and Flemming's love interest. Kanakaredes is well known for her portrayal of Dr. Sydney Hansen, on the NBC drama Providence.

With a star-studded cast and dramatic social commentary, 15 Minutes keeps you guessing from one scene to the next. While many people in America may feel that the judicial system is impenetrable, this movie proves them wrong.

As a social commentary of the times, 15 Minutes provides an eye-opening look at how two foreigners can watch five minutes of an afternoon American talk show and learn how to get away with murder -- literally.

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