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15 Minutes

America likes to watch
Directed by John Herzfeld
Produced by Keith Addis
David Blocker
John Herzfeld
Nick Wechsler
Written by John Herzfeld
Starring Robert De Niro
Edward Burns
Kelsey Grammer
Avery Brooks
Melina Kanakaredes
Music by Rob Dougan
Anthony Marinelli
J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography Jean-Yves Escoffier
Editing by Steven Cohen
Distributed by New Line
Release date(s) March 23, 2001
Running time 120 min
Country United States
Language English / Czech / Russian / Greek / Afrikaans
Budget approx $60 million (production only)

15 Minutes is a 2001 film starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns. It is about a homicide detective and a fire marshal who must stop a couple of Eastern European murderers from videotaping their killing and becoming sensationalized by the media. Melina Kanakaredes and Kelsey Grammer, both well-known for their TV performances, co-star. Its title is a reference to the famous 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 US 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 run down apartment of their old partner Milos (Vladimir Mashkov) and demand their share. He does not have it so Emil stabs him and his wife to death as Oleg tapes it with his new camera. The neighbor girl witnesses it 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 right away. Eddie Flemming (Robert De Niro) is a very famous 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 a girl (the neighbor) trying to get his attention. When he finally gets to where she was, she is 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 a regular call girl arrives, he kills her, but not before first getting the address of the escort service from her. Oleg tapes the entire 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 Heam (Charlize Theron) runs the service and tells them that the girl they are looking for 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 the girl 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 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 not 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 stabs 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 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.

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 panic takes place. The police come in 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 while the Top Story crew is 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 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 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 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 out Robert Hawkins and leaves the scene as the police all smile with approval.

Alternative Readings

The nationality of each actor and actress in the film may contain symbols and references to history.


Box office

The film only grossed about $24 million domestically and $32 million foreign. With its $60 million production budget the film was a modest flop.

External links

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