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In Theaters/On VOD: 10 MINUTES GONE (2019)


(US - 2019)

Directed by Brian A. Miller. Written by Kelvin Mao and Jeff Jingle. Cast: Michael Chiklis, Bruce Willis, Meadow Williams, Kyle Schmid, Lydia Hull, Lala Kent, Texas Battle, Swen Temmel, John Hickman, Sergio Rizzuto, Tyler Jon Olson, Geoff Reeves, Tanya Mityushima, Megan Neuringer. (R, 88 mins)

The latest installment in Lionsgate's landmark "Bruce Willis Phones In His Performance From His Hotel Room" series, 10 MINUTES GONE also marks his fourth collaboration--more like chance encounters--with director Brian A. Miller, following the triumphant trio of THE PRINCE, VICE, and REPRISAL (it's OK if you don't remember those, because Willis doesn't either). An accurate description of the amount of time Bruno probably spent on set, 10 MINUTES GONE is a day trip to Cincinnati, OH for the former actor, who appears sporadically as Rex, a go-between who organizes heist crews for wealthy benefactors requiring distance. He has his usual crew but brings in a couple of outsiders for this latest job--veteran safecracker Frank (Michael Chiklis)--"the best lock man outside of New York," according to Rex--and Frank's younger brother Joe (Tyler Jon Olson), who worked on a Rex job once before but got pinched. Joe's got a bad rep as a result ("Even when he worked all the angles, the chips never fell his way," someone says about him) and the more reliable Frank tags along to vouch for him. Of course, the job--a bank robbery where Frank has to get into the vault to retrieve a mysterious case--goes south when Rex's crew--Griffin (Kyle Schmid), Baxter (Swen Temmel, also one of 25 credited producers), and Marshall (Sergio Rizzuto, also one of 25 credited producers)--are nowhere to be found after an alarm gets pulled. Frank and Joe use a secondary exit only to have Frank get bonked on the head in an alley during their getaway. He comes to ten minutes later to find Joe dead, the case missing, and no clue what went down in the time he was out cold. Convinced he's been set up, Frank teams with Joe's bartender girlfriend Claire (Meadow Williams, also one of 25 credited producers) and hunts down the other three members of Rex's crew of Reservoir Assclowns. Meanwhile, an irate Rex--from the confines of a nearly empty office on the top floor of a high rise overlooking downtown Cincy--sends his ruthless "fixer" Ivory (Lydia Hull, also one of 25 credited producers) to track down Frank when she isn't putting on shades and walking away from explosions as slowly as possible.

The idea of that blank ten minutes has a little in common with Miller's most recent film, the straight-to-VOD BACKTRACE, a film that inexplicably had Sylvester Stallone second-billed to Ryan "Who?" Guzman. But aside from that, 10 MINUTES GONE is so shameless in its groveling, slobbering HEAT worship that even DEN OF THIEVES is looking away in embarrassment. The clumsily-edited shootouts only succeed in making this look like the cheap, Redbox-ready ripoff that it is, but what makes 10 MINUTES GONE worse than usual for its ilk is the laughable script by first-timers Kelvin Mao and Jeff Jingle, a pair of writers who never encountered a cliche they couldn't utilize, starting with some opening narration from Chiklis explaining the rules of Three-Card Monte ("the shills conspire with the mark to cheat the dealer, when in fact, they're simply conspiring with the dealer to cheat the mark"), which still doesn't make the events that transpire any more coherent. Almost every line sounds like something David Caruso would've deemed too cheesy to utter on CSI: MIAMI. Just a random sampling:
  • Rex: "None of us would be here if we didn't believe in honor among thieves."
  • Frank: "We got a rat in the crew!" 
  • Rex: "Who else is after this thing?" 
  • Frank: "The heat's comin' down!" 
  • Mysterious European benefactor: "Ze clock is ticking."
  • Frank, before shooting Baxter in the ankle: "Hey Baxter, ya like dancin'?"
  • Doctor who stitched up Griffin, who's vanished from a safe house: "Gone with the wind..."
  • Rex, glaring at diagrams on a clear dry-erase board: "This was planned to perfection! What happened?"
  • Rex, answering phone: "Talk to me!"
  • Rex: "Check his burner!"
  • Rex: "Let's load 'em up!"
  • Rex: "Time to clear the board! Liquidate everyone!" 
But no one in 10 MINUTES GONE needs Cliche-to-English subtitles like Temmel's Griffin who, in the span of about 30 seconds, drops these turds in rapid-fire succession:
  • "How do I know you weren't gonna bring the Five-0?"
  • "We in some gnarly shit, Hoss!"
  • "I covered my post!"
  • "It was clear till things went postal!"
  • "We were sittin' on the guards when the fireworks started!"
  • "You know how he rolls! Charlie Bronson had to check it out!"
  • "I got the hell outta Dodge when the alarms chimed!"

Chiklis is a fine actor and obviously smart enough to know a piece of shit when he's in one, but he soldiers through like a pro because a lead role is a lead role--even if he has to carry Williams, who's a terrible actress--especially when it allows him to indulge in some ass-kicking like a beefy Jason Statham, which maybe reminded him of some glory days on THE SHIELD. As for Willis, it is what it is: another one-day gig in Cincinnati where 95% of his minimal screen time takes place in one room and you can't tell if his later annoyance is him in character over the plot developments or if it's because Willis himself has to be inconvenienced by moving to a different set for the obligatory showdown. In this case, it's a new wing of a train station that's under construction, probably the closest thing they could find to an abandoned warehouse before they ran out of time and Willis' double would have to be pressed into service. The climactic twist is about as predictable and ho-hum as it gets, so much so that it requires the surprise villain to offer this startling auto-critique of the film in progress: "Never walk into a place you don't know how to get out of. Sound familiar?" Yeah, because we've all seen HEAT. 

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