2 out of 5
Directed by: Brian A. Miller
Because I am dedicated to maintaining my Bruce Willis film collection, I am now familiar with director Brian A. Miller. In his, eh, twilight years, Bruce entered some type of deal with Emmett / Furla productions which has seen him – I’m supposing – contractually obligated to a certain amount of screentime in a certain number of flicks. These flicks are of the direct-to-streaming/video variety, and while that doesn’t necessarily equate to poor quality, “Emmett Furla Oasis Films” are very much of the toss-a-big-name-star-on-a-script-and-the-rest-doesn’t-matter variety (Bruce Willis being that star in these cases), resulting in a ton of mix and match type flicks that are all variants on heists gone wrong / cop betrayals / revenge flicks / etc., made quick and cheap. Brian A. Miller has helmed a few of these, and some of those have had Bruce Willis.
So I will say this: I’ve come to respect Miller’s commodity – he knows how to milk a presumably shoestring budget for workable action coverage, and across well-chosen sets, and though his initial projects with Bruce resulted in some of the actor’s most sleepy work, it seems like the two have found a comfortable working relationship so we at least get a little bit more liveliness from Mr. Willis.
That doesn’t improve 10 Minutes Gone immensely (and there are signs early on that this is a “lesser” Miller project, given that the title sequence – which, according to the commentaries on other films of his I’ve watched, he likes to put some thought in to – is constructed solely of repeated slow-mo scenes of the film we’re about to watch, an indication of the plot stretching to come), but lead Michael Chiklis puts on his Shield face again and does the job, and Willis feels his way through a sort of quirkily uneven character with – gasp – dashes of aplomb (although his first line reading is very stilted – no time for second takes!), and Miller acceptably ekes it to the near-enough 90 minute line at 88 minutes with a scattering of squibs and action set pieces to keep us awake.
The story is one of the variants mentioned: heist gone wrong. Chiklis is in charge when his group’s bank job is interrupted by unexpected cops and alarms, leading Chiklis to run out the back door and get konked over the head by a mystery assailant, leaving a 10 minute gap in his memory… Bruce Willis, the “middle man” between Chiklis’ group and someone who’s paying them to steal something specific from the bank, is now tasked with figuring out if someone in the crew turned, sending his cleaner out and giving Chiklis a ticking clock to figure out the same thing. There is, conspicuously, a girl along for the ride (Meadow Williams, completely – unintentionally – emotionless even when guns are waved in her character’s face), and you will not be confused as to who betrayed whom, nor will you be very curious about what the mystery stolen something or other is, seeing as how it’s revealed halfway through the flick when scripters Kevin Mao and Jeff Jingle probably realized it wasn’t a very intriguing MacGuffin to begin with.
The story is the major ding with 10 Minutes Gone: it’s way too little even for its runtime, and no one pushes very hard on what’s supposed to be creating intrigue – it’s all rather sloppily included, rather like an afterthought – instead relying on stitching together scenes of Chiklis busting down doors and interrogating people with violence. He’s good at that. But there is no doubt from the title sequence onward that you’re watching a cheapie, and that it will amount to distraction only, and not much more.