Robert De Niro and Edward Burns team up in director John Herzfeld’s latest, “”15 Minutes,”” as lawmen tracking down international criminals loose in Manhattan who hope to achieve a level of fame by initiating a televised crime spree. Armed with a stolen video camera and a serious grudge, two Czechoslovakian immigrants (Karel Roden, OlegTaktarov) hit the Big Apple to reclaim a stolen fortune from their one-time business partner.
Before long, the criminals take their violent ways to the streets while one of them films their every step. It’s only after they spend a few days in New York City, the media-saturated center of our country, that they realize their fastest ticket to the wealth and power they crave lies on the television, and that their brutal homemade videos can earn them their fifteen minutes of fame.Two unlikely partners, though, are following the transgressors’ path of destruction and are closing in. Jordy Warsaw (Burns), a fire inspector called to a blaze started by the Czech crooks, reluctantly teams with media-darling Eddie Fleming (De Niro), a cop who spends more time on the cover of People magazine than he does walking the beat.Buddy cop thrillers need a gimmick, and “”15 Minutes’ employs a timely one by capitalizing on our culture’s hunger for immediate news. While “”15 Minutes”” puts the power of the media into the hands of two lawbreaking thugs, it also analyzes the opposite side of the camera’s lens. An interesting subplot involving a typical tabloid reporter, personified here by Kelsey Grammer’s Maury Povich-clone Robert Hawkins, proves these information vultures are almost as responsible for the public’s interest in trash television as the people making the news. Nothing sinks an action thriller like a political or social statement, but this particular message never slows “”Minutes”” down. Herzfeld conducts Burns and De Niro through the hoops of the media circus, as well as some ferocious action sequences and a killer death scene for Bobby D, and delivers them to a satisfying, if overly-tidy conclusion. There are a lot worse way to spend the “”Minutes”” of the day.GRADE: BTHE EXTRASAnd speaking of minutes, you’re going to need plenty to fully enjoy the “”15 Minutes”” DVD, as it is presented by New Line in the studio’s impressive new Infinifilm format. Finally benefiting from everything the DVD format allows them to offer, New Line is stuffing its Infinifilm discs with a ton of extras that enhance your viewing experience. They call it “”Going beyond the movie,”” but I think instead of “”beyond,”” they should say “”deeper into”” the film, as the many features offered with the disc further explore topics brought up about the film and the movie’s subject material. The Infinifilm DVDs (the first was Kevin Costner’s “”Thirteen Days,”” and the next is Johnny Depp’s “”Blow””) start with improved menus that reflect an aspect of the film. Here, considering the tabloid nature of the film, we get a CNN-ish screen set-up with constant bulletins from Grammer’s talking head. New Line advises you watch the film in its entirety first, and I agree, as the Infinifilm can distract a first-time viewer with its wealth of information.Then, when you launch the film with Infinifilm on, you’ll be prompted at various points throughout the film to press a key and trigger an in-depth feature about the scene you’re watching. “”15 Minutes”” features rehearsals of scenes, outtakes, deleted scenes and much more. What’s most impressive is the obvious amount of time New Line puts into each disc. Up until this point, DVD extras tended to stem from the film’s original production, consisting of leftover footage or featurettes directors shot on set with the intention of putting them on future discs. The Infinifilm series actually goes out and tapes original interview footage with new subjects that are relevant to the film they’re featuring. Here, we get interviews with Jerry Springer and Povich, actual NYC cops, the director and stars of the film, and more. Aside from the Infinifilm technology, the “”Minutes”” DVD also offers two original documentaries, a trivia track that leads viewers to even more features, and a feature length commentary by Herzfeld. Anything to improve the viewer’s experience while watching the film. It’s an incredible effort provided with the audience in mind, and I commend the studio’s work.GRADE: AOVERALL EXPERIENCESo far, New Line is two for two with the Infinifilm series. They’re choosing excellent films to feature, ones that open themselves up to further analysis, and the trend probably won’t stop with “”Blow.”” But you can see why “”Little Nicky”” wasn’t a candidate for the Infinifilm series. On its own, “”15 Minutes”” is an engaging police thriller that boasts some decent chemistry between De Niro and Burns and casts two particularly wicked villains in well-written roles. Even without the Infinifilm technology supporting it, it’s worth your time. With the technology behind it, it’s indispensable.FINAL GRADE: A-