Eddie Flemming (De Niro) is a celebrity cop investigating a series of murders aided and and abetted by side-kickish fire marshall Warsaw. However, Eastern European serial killer bumpkins have a plan involving videotapes of the heinous crimes and a tacky tabloid TV hack, which might just save their lives.
New Line Cinema, the production company responsible for 15 Minutes have requested the media's cooperation in not revealing a key plot point regarding the fate of a major character in writer/director John Hertzfelds (Two Days In The Valley) second movie. They should be so lucky, for attempting to find anything approaching a key plot point in this catastrophically bad conglomeration of crassness is akin to trying to find a virgin working in a brothel.
There's always something slightly suspicious about Hollywood attacking the mass media as if they imagine that they are not part of it. In fact, it's part of a slanging match that goes back to telly's threat to the big screen in the '50s, and has generated the occasional interesting flick (Network, Dog Day Afternoon), but also dubious exploitation fare such as Natural Born Killers and the slightly more interesting Man Bites Dog. (Which, to be fair, was Belgian.)
15 Minutes falls squarely into the second camp; Herzfeld, who showed so much promise with his first flick, has managed to produce something legions more offensive, unpleasant, exploitative and just plain dumb than the cathode-ray tabloidism he so loftily imagines he is satirising.
It's almost impossible to describe 15 Minutes' plot(s), because there are a multitude of them and none lead anywhere. Herzfeld crashes a Backdraft-ish buddy movie (apparently mismatched duo Burns and De Niro pursue firebug murderers) into a voyeurish shocker (murderers videotape sadistic crimes) while throwing in a supposed media satire (Grammer is a slimy TV hack after the tape) for good measure.
Plot lines fly off in all directions, while the actors flounder in the chaos. The result is that its two hour running time feels more like three, with whole chunks of the film utterly redundant. The tag line is 'America likes to watch'. If it has any sense it won't watch this. And neither should we.
Only morbidly interesting for the fact that it is yet another mis-step in the wrong direction for the once infallible De Niro. This is truly one of the worst movie-watching experiences imaginable.