Turn Back the Clock


15 Minutes

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Recently, I was laid up in bed, sick to my stomach and could do nothing but stare at my television set.  Bored with the incessant talk shows, food shows, news, etc available on network television, I decided to pop in a DVD and watch a 2001 film set in New York City called 15 Minutes.

                15 Minutes stars Karel Roden as Emil Slovak, a Czech citizen who has traveled to America with his Russian partner Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov).  The two have just gotten out of prison and have traveled all this way to find Milos Karlova (Vladimir Mashkov).  Apparently Milos, Emil and Oleg had been partners on a heist, but Emil and Oleg were caught by authorities while Milos escaped to New York City where he started a new life living in a brownstone as a plumber with his wife. 

                When Emil asks for his share of the heist take, Milos reluctantly tells him that he spent the money but can get Emil a good job as a plumber.  With Oleg filming everything on a new video camera he stole shortly after arriving at NYC, Emil kills Milos and his wife in a blind rage and seeks to get rid of the bodies by staging a fire.  A witness (Vera Farmiga) escapes the scene, but Emil has her wallet and knows she won't get far before he tracks her down.

                Arson Investigator Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) is assigned to investigate this fire and is startled to find Homicide Detective and celebrity Eddie Flemming (Robert DeNiro) already on the scene.   is convinced that this fire scene is staged and that a homicide has taken place.  Jordy is convinced of the same, especially after he finds a timer and the evidence of an accelerant having been used.  Although they rub each other the wrong way at first, Eddie and Jordy take a liking to each other and begin working the case together.

                Meanwhile, Emil has formulated a plan just in case he gets captured by the police - he'll just say he is insane.  As Emil has observed on television, one can commit a crime, plead insanity and, if not convicted, can collect proceeds from any books, films, etc about the incident.  Emil plans on using Oleg's numerous videos of their crimes to his advantage, but how far can these two go before their luck runs out?

                15 Minutes is less of an action film and more of a study in psychological imbalance and what it takes to push someone over the edge.  Although Robert DeNiro gets top billing in this film, Edward Burns and Karel Roden are the stars.  Burns is incredibly sexy as Jordy Warsaw, a man much more complicated than he seems on the surface.  Roden is terrific as the on-the-edge psychopath Emil - you can completely believe that this guy is the dangerous monster he portrays.  Oleg Taktarov offers up some comedy relief as Emil's partner/nemesis.  I loved the way the director played up the tensions between the Czechs and Russians with these two characters, very unlikely partners in crime.  Kelsey Grammar also makes an appearance here as a sleazy television news program star who will do just about anything for good ratings.  Avery Brooks is credible as Eddie's partner and friend, Detective Leon Jackson.  Melina Kanakaredes is great as Eddie's reporter girlfriend Nicolette Karas.  And if you pay attention, you'll spot Kim Cattrall as a network executive, David Alan Grier as a mugger and Charlize Theron as the head of an escort service.

                I loved that this film showed a great deal of the New York City skyline.  It's been a while since I saw a film that still had the original skyline (including the Twin Towers) intact.  I loved that I could recognize a great deal of the set locales.  Somehow, it made the movie seem that much more realistic for me.

                When I had first seen this film, I wasn't sure I would like it.  I'm not much of a DeNiro fan and I had not heard very good things about the film.  But watching the film, I was impressed with the plot and the acting of Karel Roden and Edward Burns - so much so, that I bought a copy of the film.  Watching the film again was an enjoyable experience.  It didn't cure my ills, but it sure did make me forget them for a short time.


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