Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2015)
For a new take on an old genre, we go to 2015’s crime thriller 7 Minutes. Desperate for money, old pals Sam (Luke Mitchell), Mike (Jason Ritter) and Owen (Zane Holtz) become drug dealers.
When he thinks cops tail them, ex-con Owen panics and flushes their supply. This leaves the guys in debt to drug kingpin Doug (Chris Soldevilla), someone who doesn’t forgive mistakes.
To pay off Doug, the guys find themselves forced to stage a robbery. They plan this to be a quick operation in which they should be in and out in seven minutes. Inevitably, matters don’t progress as planned.
Imagine a Tarantino movie without interesting characters or clever dialogue and you’ll know what to expect from 7 Minutes. First-time director Jay Martin comes from the world of music videos, and he also worked as a storyboard artist on big flicks like I Am Legend and Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Given that background, I’d expect 7 Minutes to present a vibrant visual experience, but that doesn’t occur. Rather than create something exciting and dynamic, Martin mostly just embraces cinematic clichés – when he even bothers to attempt any form of panache. Much of the film provides little style, and Martin’s attempts at “flair” feel stale. How many times can we suffer through dialogue scenes shot via spinning camera?
Even when 7 Minutes doesn’t steal from the Michael Bay playbook, it just feels stagnant and misbegotten. Non-linear storytelling can work, but it’s not easy to pull off, and Martin – who also wrote the screenplay – can’t make it work.
Most of 7 Minutes comes to us via flashbacks. It starts with the heist but spends most of its time with segments that show how all involved – and connected characters – got to that point.
Maybe someone more skilled could pull off this motif, but in Martin’s hands, it flops. The non-linear path feels like a crutch more than anything else, as though Martin figured the tale’s jumps and skips would obscure its inherent lack of substance.
This doesn’t work. The movie’s characters seem bland and anonymous, without much to make them distinctive beyond standard stereotypes. A psychotic drug lord? A former high school star athlete down on his luck with a pregnant girlfriend? That’s the best the story can do?
All of this results in a flick packed with clichés and without much cinematic merit. 7 Minutes delivers a trite, messy experience that falls flat.