30 Minutes or Less (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner16/09/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Enjoyably pacey knockabout comedy with strong comic performances and a witty script, though the tone wobbles a little and it's ultimately rather shallow and forgettable (if still fun).

What's it all about?

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, 30 Minutes Or Less stars Jesse Eisenberg as Nick, a pizza delivery boy who's forced to rob a bank within ten hours of being ambushed by slackers Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) during a delivery and having a time-bomb strapped a to his chest. Rather than keep the cash, the scheming pair plan to use the heist money to pay a hitman (Michael Pena) to bump off Dwayne's ex-army father (Fred Ward), in the hopes of landing a huge inheritance before he squanders it all.

Meanwhile, a panicked Nick ropes in his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari), with whom he's recently fallen out because of a no-longer-secret long-term crush on Chet's sister Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria). However, the heist is just the beginning of their problems.

The Good
Eisenberg and Ansari make an appealing comic duo and their constant bickering is a lot of fun, even if neither actor is really stretching themselves. Similarly, Danny McBride's tried and trusted comic persona is put to good effect and he has equally good comic chemistry with Swardson; in fact, what's most interesting about the film is that McBride and Swardson's ostensible bad guys are actually quite likeable.

Fleischer keeps things moving at a brisk pace, ensuring that there's no time to think about all the various plot-holes. He also orchestrates several excellent action-slash-comedy set-pieces, most notably the bank heist sequence, which is genuinely funny.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it can't quite decide how black a comedy it really wants to be – as a result, the tone wobbles considerably from scene to scene, particularly when it comes to the violence, which is surprisingly strong in places. On top of that, Vadsaria's character is badly underwritten, so the love story element has very little weight to it and fails to make any emotional impact.

Worth seeing?
As forgettable Friday night popcorn movies go, 30 Minutes or Less is actually pretty good fun, thanks to pacey direction and strong comic performances from its cast. Just don't expect to remember much of it in a week's time.

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Content updated: 07/12/2019 21:43

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