15 Minutes

Year: 2001
Director: John Herzfeld
Writer: John Herzfeld
Cast: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer
A fairly bagged film when it came out, universally seen as the latest in a long line of bad choices by the legendary De Niro, it wasn't actually that bad.

The deeper message is how easy it is to become a household name in celebrity-obsessed America, with two appropriately scary Eastern European immigrants landing in New York, acquiring a camera and intending to murder someone on film, riding high on the notoriety.

On their tail is the unlikely alliance of celebrity cop Flemming (De Niro) and fire marshall Warsaw (Burns).

The story is fairly ordinary police chase stuff, although with an acid-tongued comment on what writer/director Herzfeld obviously sees as America's biggest weaknesses; being too soft of criminals, giving them too much protection by slick lawyers and not giving law enforcement the elbow room to operate effectively.

It's most plainly spelt out in a running device where Warsaw apprehends a mugger in Central Park and - with nowhere else to put him - handcuffs him to a tree. It's the sort of action/thriller comic moment we've seen a million times, but later on the crim is on TV crying abuse. It seems to be the film's central message.

Well done, pretty well written, and with some unexpectedly affecting scenes, including Flemming's untimely death at the hands of the villains.

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