Earlier this year, the struggling movie theater subscription service MoviePass announced that they would be producing and distributing its first original film in an effort to combat rising debt. It was a bold tactic, but once we learned that Bruce Willis had signed on to the project, it seemed more legitimate, and we became eager to find out what would happen when “10 Minutes Gone” hit theaters.
“10 Minutes Gone” is directed by Brian A Miller, a frequent collaborator with Bruce Willis on movies such as “The Prince,” “Vice,” and “Reprisal.” In this new movie, Willis will only be taking a co-starring role, the lead going to Michael Chiklis of FX’s “The Shield.”
Both of these middle-aged bald actors have talent, but can they draw in an audience? Chiklis may be recognizable on television, but he is yet to have a hit on the big screen. Willis is of course a household name and face, but he is arguably over-saturated in the action genre. His last few action movies, “Reprisal,” “Air Strike,” “Death Wish,” and “Act of Violence,” all managed to fly under the radar and underperform at the box-office despite having his renowned star-status attached to them.
The virtually unknown Kevin Mao and Jeff Jingle wrote the script for “10 Minutes Gone.” It is the first writing credit for Mao, who has only been involved in one other short movie as a producer, and the second writing credit for Jingle, who is best known as a special effects artist on films such as “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “Pacific Rim,” and “Cowboys & Aliens.” It is a daring move for MoviePass to put the story in the hands of such inexperienced talent, but young minds should of course not be underestimated, and script can speak for itself.
The plot starts out simple enough, with Bruce Willis’ crime-boss character curating a team of highly skilled people to pull off a robbery. The heist is an effort to break into a vault and steal an unmarked case that supposedly contains something immensely valuable. The team, which includes Chiklis’ character Frank and his brother Joey, manages to retrieve the case. However, during the getaway, somebody hits Frank over the head, knocking him out. When wakes up ten minutes later, Joey is dead, the case is gone, and he has no idea who is responsible.
For the rest of the movie, Frank must track down whoever took the case. It also becomes a revenge story, though, as Frank obviously wants retribution for his brother being murdered. Meanwhile, there is a hint of mystery, for Frank and the audience alike want to figure out not only who is responsible, but what happened during those crucial ten minutes when Frank was unconscious.
As the plot progresses, it gets more complex and nobody can be trusted. Willis’ character remains the heist’s overlord, but other members of the team become prime suspects in Frank’s search. Meanwhile, government officials are also after the case, making it so even those on the right side of the law could be culprits. The trailer also ends with Chiklis and Willis standing face-to-face as Chicklis sinisterly remarks “so much for honor among thieves,” so it is quite possible and even probable that Willis’ character will end up more involved than we think. After all, if you have Bruce Willis in your movie, you might as well use him to his maximum potential.
Anyway, the hallowed case in the movie will probably remain a MacGuffin, and the plot will likely lead to a climactic downtown shootout between the film’s central characters and the police department. It will probably be a satisfying, albeit predictable, ending to a pretty standard film.
Sadly, “standard” will probably not be enough to save MoviePass. The company, which allows subscribers to see three movies a month for $90/year, has hit hard times lately. It is unlikely that it will be able to sustain itself for much longer. While we applaud their audacity to collaborate and create an original film in an effort to pull themselves out of financial trouble, it does not look like “10 Minutes Gone” will be anyone’s ultimate savior.
Given the limited marketing, generic heist-centered backdrop, and corny trailer featuring a dated Don LaFontaine-like voiceover, it unfortunately looks like “10 Minutes Gone” will be no more than just another title in a long list of forgettable action movies. If that is the case, then MoviePass will need to find a new way to keep itself afloat.
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