15 Minutes

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15 Minutes
15 Minutes (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Herzfeld
Produced by
Written by John Herzfeld
Music by
Cinematography Jean-Yves Escoffier
Edited by Steven Cohen
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • March 9, 2001 (2001-03-09) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $56 million[1]

15 Minutes is a 2001 American action 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 begins with Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov) arriving in America. They were former criminals and after getting out of prison have come to the U.S. to claim their part of a bank heist in Russia (or somewhere in Czech Republic). Within minutes of arriving, Oleg steals a video camera. They go to the run down apartment of their old partner and demand their share. He doesn't have it so Emil stabs him and his wife to death, as Oleg tapes it with the camera. The couple's friend, Czech immigrant Daphne Handlova (Vera Farmiga), covertly witnesses the murders from the bathroom, but she escapes before they can get her too. To hide the crime, Emil burns down the apartment.

Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) is an arson investigator and is called to the case. Eddie Flemming (Robert De Niro) is a much celebrated detective who is also called to the scene. Flemming is such a high profile celebrity detective that he is even followed around by the local tabloid TV show Top Story. Everywhere he goes, the townspeople cheer him on. Flemming and Warsaw decide to help each other out and work the case together. While checking out the crowd outside, Warsaw spots Daphne trying to get his attention. When he finally gets to where she was, she's gone.

Emil, who also got the girl's wallet when she fled the apartment earlier, calls an escort service from a business card he found in her wallet. He asks for a Czech girl, hoping she will arrive. When Honey, a regular call girl arrives, he kills her but not before getting the address of the escort service. Oleg tapes the murder. In fact, he tapes everything he can, trying to be the next Frank Capra.

Flemming and Warsaw investigate her murder and also visit the escort service. Rose Hearn (Charlize Theron) runs the service and tells them that the girl they're looking for doesn't work for her but rather a local hairdresser. She also mentions a couple of other guys who just asked her the same questions. Flemming and Warsaw rush to the hairdresser, but get there just after Emil and Oleg warn Daphne not to say anything to anyone. As Flemming puts the girl into his squad car, he notices Oleg taping them from across the street. A foot chase begins, culminating in Flemming's regular partner getting hit with a glass bottle and his wallet stolen. Emil finds a card with Flemming's name and address in it. He gets 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 tape him to a chair. While Oleg is recording, Emil explains his plan to Flemming: He will kill him and sell the tape to Top Story. After being committed to an insane asylum, he will declare that he is actually sane. Since he can't be tried again, he will get off, collecting the royalties from his books and movies. Flemming starts attacking them with his chair (while still taped to it) and almost gets them, but Emil gets the upper-hand and stabs him in the chest, mortally wounding him. Emil then suffocates him with the pillow and kills 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 $1 million for the tape. Warsaw and the entire police force are furious at Robert, as they can't believe that he would air it, especially since his main reporter is Nicolette.

On the night it is aired, Emil and Oleg sit in a Planet Hollywood to watch it with the rest of the public. Halfway through the airing, the other spectators realize that Emil and Oleg are right there with them and a panic takes place. The police come and arrest 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 is going to kill him. The police arrive just in time and take Emil away. Everything goes as planned as Emil is now a celebrity and is 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, with the Top Story crew taping the whole thing. Oleg gives Robert the tape of Emil explaining his plan to Flemming, proving he was sane the whole time. Robert 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 Nicolette, who is covering the news story, and threatens to shoot her. He is finally cornered by the police and Warsaw. Against orders, Warsaw instead shoots Emil a dozen times in the chest. An officer shouts that Oleg is still alive. Robert rushes to him to get footage, just as Oleg says the final few words to the movie he's taping just before he dies. Warsaw punches out Robert and leaves the scene as the police all smile with approval.



The film was shot on location in New York City and Los Angeles from May to July 1999.[2] It 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, on March 9, 2001.[3]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $24 million domestically in the United States and Canada. It made a further $32 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $56 million, against a production budget of $60 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 33% based on reviews from 123 critics. The site's consensus reports: "As critical as it is about sensationalism in the media, 15 Minutes itself indulges in lurid violence, and its satire is too heavy-handed to be effective."[4] It currently holds a 34 out of 100 rating on Metacritic based on 32 critical reviews.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "15 Minutes (2001)". Box Office Mojo. August 28, 2002. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ "15 Minutes (2001) - Box Office/Business". IMDb. 
  3. ^ "15 Minutes (2001) - Trivia". IMDb. 
  4. ^ "15 Minutes (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  5. ^ "15 Minutes Reviews". Metacritic. 

External links[edit]