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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Herzfeld|
|Written by||John Herzfeld|
|Editing by||Steven Cohen|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||120 minutes|
15 Minutes is a 2001 American action-crime thriller film starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns. Its story revolves around a homicide detective and a fire marshal who team up to stop a pair of Eastern European murderers who are videotaping their crimes in order to become rich and famous. The film also stars Melina Kanakaredes and Kelsey Grammer. The title is a reference to the Andy Warhol quotation, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."
The film was shot on location in New York City in July 1999 and was originally slated to be released by New Line Cinema in the spring of 2000, with theatrical trailers appearing in late 1999. For reasons unknown, the film was pulled from the spring 2000 schedule and then delayed until the following year.
After getting out of prison, ex-convicts Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov) travel to New York City to meet a contact in order to claim their part of a bank heist in Russia (or somewhere in the Czech Republic). Within minutes of arriving, Oleg steals a video camera. They go to the brownstone apartment of their old partner Milos Karlova (Vladimir Mashkov) and his wife Tamina, and demand their share. When Milos admits that he spent it, an enraged Emil kills him with a kitchen knife, then breaks Tamina's neck as Oleg tapes it with his new camera. The couple's neighbor, Daphne Handlova (Vera Farmiga), witnesses everything, but she escapes before they can get to her. To cover up the crime, they douse the bodies in acetone, carefully position them on the bed, and burn down the apartment, intending to pass it off as an accident.
Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns), an arson investigator, and NYPD detective Eddie Flemming (Robert De Niro) are called to the scene. Flemming is a high profile detective who frequently appears on the local tabloid TV show Top Story. Flemming and Warsaw decide to work the case together. They eventually determine that Milos was stabbed so hard that the knife's tip broke off and lodged in his spine. While checking out the crowd outside, Warsaw spots Daphne trying to get his attention. When he finally gets to where she was, she is gone, but Warsaw manages to produce a sketch of the witness.
Emil, who got hold of Daphne's wallet when she fled the apartment earlier, realizes that Daphne is in the country illegally and will be deported if she calls the police. He contacts an escort service from a business card he found in Daphne's wallet. He asks for a Czech girl hoping she will arrive. When Honey, a regular call girl, arrives instead, he stabs and kills her, but not before getting the address of the escort service from her. Oleg tapes the entire murder. In fact, he tapes everything he can; a wannabe filmmaker, he aspires to be the next Frank Capra.
Flemming and Warsaw investigate her murder, determine the link to the fire, and also visit the escort service. Rose Heam (Charlize Theron) runs the service and tells them that the girl they are looking for (Daphne) does not work for her but rather a local hairdresser, and she just told the same thing to a couple other guys that were asking the same questions. Flemming and Warsaw then rush to the hairdresser but get there just after Emil and Oleg warn the girl not to say anything to anyone. As Flemming puts Daphne into his squad car, he notices Oleg taping them from across the street. A foot chase begins, culminating in Flemming's partner getting shot and his wallet stolen. Emil finds a card with Flemming's name and address in it. He gets very jealous of Flemming's celebrity status and is convinced that anyone in America can do whatever they want and get away with it.
On the night that Flemming is to propose to his girlfriend Nicolette Karas (Melina Kanakaredes), Oleg and Emil sneak into his house and knock him unconscious, later taping him to a chair. While Oleg is recording, Emil explains his plan - he will kill Flemming, then he will sell the tape to Top Story, and when he is arrested, he will plead insanity. After being committed to an insane asylum, he will declare that he is actually sane. Because of double jeopardy, he will get off, collecting the royalties from his books and movies. Flemming starts attacking them with his chair (while still taped to it), but Emil stabs him in the abdomen, and suffocates him with a pillow, killing him.
The entire city is in mourning and Emil calls Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer), the host of Top Story, to tell him he has a tape of the killing and is willing to sell it. Robert pays him a million dollars for the tape. Warsaw and the entire police force are furious with Robert and can not believe he would air it, especially since his main reporter is Nicolette. At the same time, Emil and Oleg try to kill Warsaw and Daphne by booby-trapping Daphne's apartment. The two narrowly escape the resulting fire.
On the night the Flemming murder video is aired, Emil and Oleg sit in a Planet Hollywood to watch it with the rest of the public. As the clip progresses, the customers react with horror at the brutality of it, and a few begin to notice Emil and Oleg are right there with them, Oleg actually smiling at the results of his work, and panic takes place. Emil explains his betrayal to Oleg and as he about to execute Emil with a gun, Oleg stabs him in the arm. The police come in and arrest the wounded Emil, while Oleg escapes. They put Emil in Warsaw's squad car but instead of taking him to the police station, Warsaw takes him to an abandoned warehouse where he intends to kill him, but he then can not bring himself to shoot the defenseless man. The police arrive just in time and take Emil away. Everything goes according to Emil's plan and he becomes a celebrity and is apparently successfully pleading insanity. His lawyer agrees to work for 30% of the royalties Emil will receive for his story. Meanwhile, Oleg is jealous of the notoriety that Emil is receiving.
While being led away with his lawyer and all the media, Warsaw gets into an argument with the lawyer while the Top Story crew is taping the whole thing. Oleg gives Hawkins the part of the tape where Emil explains his plan to Flemming, proving he was sane the whole time (Oleg presumably kept this part of the tape on hand as part of an "insurance policy"). Hawkins shouts out to Emil and explains to him the evidence he now has. Emil pushes a policeman down, takes his gun and shoots Oleg. Emil grabs Flemming's fiancée, who is covering the news story, and threatens to shoot her. He is finally cornered by the police and Warsaw. Against orders, Warsaw shoots Emil a dozen times in the chest in order to avenge Eddie's death. An officer shouts that Oleg is still alive, and Hawkins rushes to him to get footage just as Oleg says the final few words to his movie he is taping just before he dies (with the Statue of Liberty in the background). Shortly afterward, Hawkins approaches Warsaw and tries to cultivate the same sort of arrangement he had with Flemming, suggesting the power an arrangement would give him. In response, Warsaw punches Hawkins and leaves the scene, as police officers smile in approval.
- Robert De Niro as Det. Eddie Flemming
- Edward Burns as Fire Marshal Jordan Warsaw
- Kelsey Grammer as Robert Hawkins
- Avery Brooks as Det. Leon Jackson
- Melina Kanakaredes as Nicolette Karas
- Karel Roden as Emil Slovák
- Oleg Taktarov as Oleg Razgul
- Vera Farmiga as Daphne Handlová
- John DiResta as Bobby Korfin
- James Handy as Deputy Chief Declan Duffy
- Darius McCrary as Det. Tommy Cullen
- Bruce Cutler as Himself
- Charlize Theron as Rose Hearn
- Kim Cattrall as Cassandra
- David Alan Grier as Mugger
- Vladimir Mashkov as Milos Karlov
- Irina Gasanova as Tamina Karlova
- Noelle Evans as Honey
- Gabriel Casseus as Unique
- Anton Yelchin as Boy in Burning Building
The film grossed $24 million domestically in the United States and Canada, and $32 million internationall, for a worldwide total of $56 million, against a production budget of $42 million.