15 MINUTES 15 MINUTES 15 MINUTES 15 MINUTES
written and directed by John Herzfeld, produced by Herzfeld, Keith Addis, David Blocker and Nick Wechsler, with Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer, Vera Farmiga and Melina Kanakaredes. 107 minutes. A New Line Films release through Alliance-Atlantis. Opens Friday (March 9). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 81. Rating: NNN
it's hard to believe that anyone could build a Hollywood career when his first produced screenplay was Two Of A Kind. Many people thought that script would be the final nail in the coffin of John Travolta's career.
But Travolta turned out to be harder to kill than Rasputin, and screenwriter John Herzfeld has toiled long in the pesticide-riddled vineyards of Hollywood, mostly in television. This film is his second feature as a writer-director. The first was Two Days In The Valley, which explains the out-of-nowhere Charlize Theron cameo in this film: he was the director who gave Theron her break.
A thriller about the relationship between cops and the tabloid press, 15 Minutes stars Robert De Niro as a heroic cop who's also a media star. Ed Burns plays a fire investigator, and Kelsey Grammer is the host-producer of a tabloid news show that worships at the church of "If it bleeds, it leads." When a pair of marginally competent Russian thugs show up in New York looking for money and fame, De Niro and Burns set off on their trail, while Grammer looks for exclusives. This is Sidney Lumet-Paddy Chayefsky territory.
And it's not a bad thriller. But Herzfeld jams in too many subplots, and 15 Minutes goes haywire with climaxes in the last 10 minutes or so. On the other hand, he gets very good performances from De Niro and Grammer, though I'm still trying to see exactly what it is directors see in Ed Burns.
It's one thing to be starring in his own movies (The Brothers McMullen and She's The One), but he doesn't have much more range than, say, Ryan Phillippe or Freddie Prinze Jr.