“An intriguing but boring heist gone-wrong thriller.”
A robber’s worst nightmare is the subject of 7 Minutes, veteran music video director Jay Martin’s feature debut. A bank heist interspersed with backstories, the film tells about a trio of friends’ desperate measure to collect a large sum of money which ultimately ends desperately.
Sam (Luke Mitchell) is a former high school football star with a promising career ahead. With a scholarship prospect and a beautiful cheerleader girlfriend named Kate (Leven Rambin), he could not ask for anything more until an injury takes away his bright future. Three years later, he settles with Kate and with their incoming baby. However, he is laid off from his factory job and turning to his brother Mike (Jason Ritter), he becomes a low-level pot dealer.
Like his brother, Mike is financially deprived. Despite having a wife and a kid, he has irresistible urge with women, taking particular advantage to slutty Brandi (Mariel Neto). Recently released from prison due to shoplifting, Sam’s childhood friend Owen (Zane Holtz) runs to his career criminal dad Mr. B (Kris Kristofferson) for support. Consequently, Owen, Mike and Sam turn to each other and make a huge transaction with a ruthless drug dealer (Chris Soldevilla). However, the deal goes wrong and the trio must pay a hefty debt in only 48 hours.
With no other better choice, the three opt to rob a bank in their town in Everett, Washington. By 8:30 in the morning, donning expressionless white mask, they raid the bank, hoping to accomplish their mission in a span of seven minutes. However, the bank manager (Joel Murray) recognizes Sam’s voice and this sets off an unexpected chain of event like rescue effort of sad-sack cop Jerome (Brandon Hardesty) and double-crossing by Mr. B’s associate Tuckey (Kevin Gage).
Though not an original way, 7 Minutes is stylishly told with numerous well-constructed flashbacks associated with both major and minor characters. There is clarity of plot and narrative twists mostly dealing with double crosses and dirty works. Director Jay Martin tightly handled the film, showing his solid control of both the characters and story. The film is fast-paced with plenty of hard-boiled dialogues. Martin’s experience in shooting music videos is also prominent in the movie. There are several slo-mo sequences in the film, the particular standout is one towards the end, which give a winning and dramatic appeal.
The cast also showed obvious commitment to their roles. Among the three, Mitchell shines best as he executed a wider range of emotions as a high school superstar, then a helpless husband, and finally an amateur edgy robber. Rambin complements Mitchell’s performance as his love interest Kate. She showed she has potentials behind her beautiful face. Though appearing in minor roles, Hardesty, Gage, Murray and Kristofferson take advantage of their solo moments.
However, 7 Minutes looks derivative of Tarantino’s 1992 crime thriller Reservoir Dogs. The flashbacks leading to the central action, the searing musical score, bloody climax and plot twists that make you dumb are elements common to these films. But unlike Tarantino’s movie, 7 Minutes lacks humor and certain luster that distinguishes it from other films in the genre. It’s too serious to the point of being boring and no real tension is actually developed. Yes, there is conflict, but aside from the remarkable slo-mo style, the subplots did not really fuse into an orgasmic culmination.
Flashbacks were also too many and too short that there is not enough time to invest emotionally to the characters. The few flashbacks within flashbacks also did not help in lighting the tension. Instead, the opposite happened as this flood of memories deadened the present conflict and made us forget the characters. This also resulted to the absence of a main voice, a particular point of view which would have unified the entire movie. Or, voices should have been reduced to a few significant ones since the flashbacks are quite generic and touch worn-out themes such as one’s desperation to help his family or one’s struggle to be someone better.
Overall, 7 Minutes is a good movie, but better ones have been made before. The general plot and characters are solid, but its fast pace and deluge of flashbacks make us forget several things, killing the tension and character development in the process. It’s fine but not beautiful enough to be unforgettable.