'10 Minutes Gone': Film Review

10 Minutes Gone - Publicity Still 1- H 2019
Utterly unremarkable.

Bruce Willis and Michael Chiklis co-star in Brian A. Miller’s crime thriller about a botched bank heist that sets off a wave of bloody retribution.

Boasting a synopsis stacked with keywords certain to deliver reliable hits from streaming platform searches, Brian A. Miller’s lightweight action vehicle 10 Minutes Gone makes only a perfunctory stop in theaters before finding a more appropriate niche on VOD. Miller has made a career out of directing aging action icons in a string of generic thrillers, including Backtrace (Sylvester Stallone), Reprisal (Bruce Willis) and The Prince (Willis again), although few of them rate much of a mention, and his latest feature looks unlikely to change that track record for the better.

Rex (Willis) runs a handpicked crew that pulls bank robbery jobs for hire, although he keeps them at arm’s length so he doesn’t need to have any personal conversations other than on the phone, preferring to handle the business side of the operations. His latest anonymous client needs a mysterious metal case extracted from an underground vault in Cincinnati, so Rex brings on safecracker Frank (Michael Chiklis) and his brother Joe (Tyler Jon Olson), along with weapons specialists Baxter (Swen Temmel) and Mitchell (John Hickman) and tech expert Griffin (Kyle Schmid) to take out the bank’s security system. Practically the only interesting thing about this hopelessly mismatched lineup entails predicting in what order they’ll all die, since their demise appears an almost foregone conclusion.

Griffin’s technical expertise is meant to buy the team enough time for Frank to open the safe, retrieve the case and make a well-coordinated getaway, but something goes wrong when the branch’s alarm system alerts law enforcement. While Mitchell and Baxter hold off the cops out front with a heavy show of firepower, Frank and Joe make it out a back exit, where they’re viciously ambushed in an alley.

It all seems like a fairly standard double-cross setup and when Frank recovers 10 minutes later, he finds Joe dead from a gunshot wound and the case gone, along with any memory of the attack after taking a blow to the head. The amnesia angle provides an additional wrinkle, but even at this early juncture it’s clear that Frank will be spending the rest of the movie hunting down the rat that betrayed him (unless it happens to be his brother, which might have been an interesting twist, but too late for that).

Since Rex has already accepted a $500,000 advance from the client and has another $1.5 million riding on safe delivery of the case, you can bet that he’s not about to let Frank off, instead sending him chasing after his scattered team to track down the missing item. After working a dozen similar jobs for Rex, Frank knows what will happen if he doesn’t comply. So he begins interrogating one gang member after another, often at gunpoint, a tactic that triggers repeated shootouts, but the confrontations aren’t getting him any closer to finding the case, as Rex’s hired assassin closes in. 

Willis, of course, bears even more blame than Miller for churning out unremarkable actioners, while his Die Hard legacy sputters along on fumes and unimaginative marketing. Wearing the same pained expression the actor adopts for most of these low-budget features, Willis seems to grimace through every scene only as long as necessary to collect a paycheck. At first, Chiklis’ more emotive performance provides Frank with a distinguishing counterpoint to Rex’s stoicism, but too soon he slides into showy hysterics, undercutting his own effectiveness.

Screenwriters Kelvin Mao and Jeff Jingle don’t do much to complicate the plot, sticking mostly to the expected while stringing together a series of beatdowns and minor set pieces that steadfastly drive the action without delivering any real surprises. A late twist that reveals Frank’s betrayer is too implausible to sufficiently shift the movie’s trajectory before it concludes with a weak attempt at setting up a sequel that will probably never get made.

Miller demonstrates even less conviction than his writers, relying on frequent flashbacks to fill in backstory that’s not evident from the main plot and substituting CGI exteriors for actual locations. His workmanlike approach conveys the essentials without delivering many of the thrills or stylistic flourishes that the genre demands, adequately fulfilling a familiar expectation for forgettable entertainment.

Production companies: Grindstone Entertainment, Emmett Furla Oasis Films, MoviePass Films, Diamond Film Productions 
Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Michael Chiklis, Bruce Willis, Meadow Williams, Kyle Schmid, Lydia Hull, Lala Kent, Texas Battle, Swen Temmel, John Hickman, Sergio Rizzuto, Tyler Jon Olson
Director: Brian A. Miller
Screenwriters: Kelvin Mao, Jeff Jingle
Producers: Randall Emmett, George Furla, Shaun Sanghani, Lydia Hull, Mark Stewart
Executive producers: Barry Brooker, Stan Wertlieb, Meadow Williams, Swen Temmel, Ted Fox, Sergio Rizzuto, Lee Broda, Jeff Rice, Tim Sullivan, Alex Eckert, Ceasar Richbow, Ted Farnsworth, Mitch Lowe
Director of photography: Peter A. Holland
Production designer: Russel M. Jaeger
Costume designer: Rachel Stringfellow
Editors: Michael Trent, Bob Mori
Music: Josh Atchley
Casting director: Brandon Henry Rodriguez

Rated R, 88 minutes