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Film / 15 Minutes

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15 Minutes is a 2001 action-thriller film, directed by John Herzfeld, starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns as a NYPD homicide detective and fire marshal who team up to try to stop a pair of Eastern European gangsters who filming and recording murders.

Detective Eddie Flemming (De Niro) is a hotshot NYPD detective who is paired up with fire marshal/arson investigator Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) to investigate a murder/arson committed by two immigrants, Emil Slovak and Oleg Razgul (Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov), who have murdered their former employer and are now convinced that they can become famous through filming their crimes and selling the footage online.

The movie also stars Kelsey Grammer, Avery Brooks, Melina Kanakaredes, Vera Farmiga, John Di Resta, James Handy, Darius McCrary, among others.

It was released on March 9, 2001.

Tropes for the film:

  • Cop Killer: At the end of the first act, Emil and Oleg track down and murder Eddie, with the rest of the film following the fallout from this murder.
  • Dead Star Walking: The film's biggest twist occurs when De Niro's character, Eddie, is captured and murdered by Emil and Oleg less than halfway through the film, setting up Burns' character (Warsaw) as the lead protagonist.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The film begins with Eddie simply set-up as the hotshot main character (and played by Robert De Niro, to boot}. Then Eddie gets killed off less than halfway through the film, and Warsaw steps into the lead role.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • At the passport-stamping office, Oleg shows off both his obsession with cameras and movies and his ditziness when he thinks that saying he and Emil are friends counts as a legal relationship.
    • Hawkins is introduced complaining about poor ratings, saying that violence is the key to good television, and being fairly insensitive toward his associates.
    • Eddie is introduced dunking his head in a sink full of ice water and then meticulously combing his hair and putting in eye drops to look good for the cameras, only to then do a good job on the bust.
  • Fame Through Infamy: The plot has the two bad guys murder people and record it to go viral on the internet.
  • Hostage Situation: The film ends with Emil taking Nicolette hostage and prompting this situation, which eventually leads Warsaw to shoot him after momentarily dropping his weapon.
  • Immoral Journalist: The murder of a famous detective is filmed by the perpetrator as part of an elaborate scheme to get off on an Insanity Defense and become rich and famous from the sale of the tape. Afterward the murderer calls Robert Hawkins, the host of a tabloid TV show named Top Story and offers to sell him the tape. Hawkins buys it for one million dollars to run on his show, much to the shock of the entire city.
  • Just Ignore It: The movie is about a pair of foreign terrorists who seek to videotape their murders, give the footage to the news, and become infamous that way. The ad campaign used the line "the only way to stop them... is not to watch."
  • Reformed Criminal: Milos is a former bank robber turned plumber who says that the work is easy and enjoyable. His old partners in crime take it poorly when he offers to help them get jobs after having spent all of the money from their last job together.
  • Spanner in the Works: Emil's plan to plead insanity and get off scot-free for murdering Eddie Flemming probably would have worked, had Oleg not approached Hawkins outside the courtroom and given him a tape proving Emil was sane all along. The resulting confrontation ends with both men dead.
  • Team Killer: Once Emil realizes that Oleg has given his confession to Hawkins, he grabs a policeman's gun and guns down his former partner as the latter gloats in the crowd.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: During the final confrontation, Warsaw uses a distraction to get the drop on Oleg, putting a round into his shoulder to cause him to let go of Nicolette, then pumping an entire handgun magazine into the gangster at medium range.