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7 Minutes

Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 1, 2015
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted August 26, 2015 | E-mail the Author
"Style over substance" is a complaint that has been lodged against movies for decades, and first-time directors are especially guilty of it, but it's rare that one gets an example as defined as 7 Minutes. The debut film from storyboard artist Jay Martin (who also wrote the screenplay), the movie feels like an idea came to Martin in form first and function second, and Martin stuck to his guns through hell and high water, completely oblivious to the fact that the fact that a semi-intriguing editing structure won't save an uninspired story and uninteresting characters.

The film is centered around a stick-up at a local bank, which naturally plays out over the course of seven minutes. The heist is essentially the present, while those seven minutes are broken up by lengthy flashbacks that fill in who our perpetrators, Sam (Luke Mitchell), Mike (Jason Ritter), and Owen (Zane Holtz) are and how they've arrived in this situation. Their predicament escalates in ways that the flashbacks provide context for, with regard to the twists and turns that occur inside the bank and the people who are both working there (Joel Murray), people who happen to be there (Brandon Hardesty), and some uninvited guests (Kevin Gage).

The basic problem with this flashback structure is that it's presumptuous, rooted in the belief that anything exciting will be intriguing and that the viewer will be carried along by this narrative device, without much thought to what kind of answers the flashbacks are actually providing. Unfortunately, Martin doesn't bring much to the table in terms of the heist itself, which is three guys in masks busting into a small office and demanding the keys to the safe. He has a fixation on clocks, apparently determined to underline the fact that the entire central incident takes place in the allotted seven minutes. The film is so anchored to the concept of how the film would be made and cut together that there's no sense that Martin and editor Kayla M. Emter considered any other alternatives, despite the on/off pacing of the film getting tiring after only a single one of the movie's in-and-out-and-back-again transitions.

Then again, it'd be unfair to underestimate how much those bland flashbacks sink the movie as well. Sam is a family man, trying to provide for his pregnant wife Kate (Leven Rambin) after an injury during his first college game suddenly ends his dreams of football stardom. Sam loses his low-paying job at a local factory and ultimately turns to his brother, Mike, who deals drugs to college kids for extra cash, with the help of Owen, recently released from prison. Inevitably, the boys get in over their head when they try to move up from weed to E, yet the sequence of Owen flushing the drugs in a panic after spotting a cop may be one of the least engaging, least thrilling sequences in film history, with Owen's paranoia exaggerated beyond belief, while Sam and Mike basically do nothing. On some level, even Martin and his cast know this stuff is just going through the motions to get to the heist, and as a result the film is tedious, a slog through perfunctory material to get to what is supposedly "the good stuff", which isn't that good.

By the time the film devolves into boring "wife-in-peril" stuff, it's clear that 7 Minutes has not only flushed that time down the drain, but also the other 77 minutes the viewer has to sit through to see them. It's easy to believe that Martin had this movie all mapped out in his head, as it has a certain precision to it that suggests pieces of a puzzle carefully designed to fit together, but the structure of the film doesn't account for the stop-and-start pacing of the movie, its unlikable and bland characters, perfunctory storytelling, and most of all, the fact that it just isn't very interesting. Pretty early on in the movie, Martin's clock fixation starts to seem ironic and gets worse each time he cuts to one: even the movie keeps checking its watch.

The Blu-ray

Anchor Bay has provided 7 Minutes with some intriguing artwork, featuring the three main characters in their robbery disguises, with the hook of the title adding another sense of the film's idea of tension. The single-disc release comes in an eco-friendly Viva Elite Blu-ray case and there is no insert.

The Video and Audio

7 Minutes' digital photography is presented with the expected sharpness and clarity via the Blu-ray's 2.39:1 1080p AVC video. Colors appear generally natural and well-balanced, fine detail is very strong, and no aggressive compression problems appeared, although a hint of banding crops up in a couple of scenes. The soundtrack is an exciting and generally well-done Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track which is reasonably immersive for a low-budget movie. While I may not have engaged with the suspense as intended, it's no fault of the mix, which brings the viewer into the bank robbery with a certain effectiveness. Other scenes are more sparse, but that speaks more to their quiet tone than a lack of effort. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and Spanish subtitles.

The Extras

Two brief extras are included. "Linear Heist" (17:44) is a pretty self-explanatory extra, which puts the footage from the film in chronological order. There is also, unsurprisingly, a storyboard-to-scene reel (8:44), which includes illustrations of several of the movie's sequences. Both extras are presented in HD.

Trailers for Any Day, Bad Turn Worse, and Just Before I Go play before the main menu.


7 Minutes is a film one can easily imagine sounded great in a pitch meeting and seemed well-thought out on paper, thanks to Jay Martin's experience doing storyboards for Hollywood blockbusters, but in execution, the areas in which his screenplay is sorely lacking are impossible to ignore. Skip it.

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