Time is a crucial element in “30 Minutes or Less,” a wacky action/comedy about a pizza-delivery guy who’s kidnapped and forced to rob a bank.
The title refers to the guarantee Nick’s pizzeria makes to customers: If the food doesn’t arrive in a half-hour, it’s free.
More relevant is the 10 hours Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) has to steal $100,000 from a bank. That’s the deadline he’s given by Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), the clueless kidnappers who wear gorilla masks while strapping a bomb to Nick’s chest and threatening to detonate it if he doesn’t follow their directions.
Dwayne, who still lives with his grouchy, despotic dad (Fred Ward), wants the dough to hire a hit man to kill the old man and inherit some of the millions he won in a lottery.
Director Ruben Fleischer showed a flair for this kind of loopiness in his debut feature, “Zombieland.” This time out, his attempt to mix mirth with mayhem is less successful.
Forget the fact that the plot (from screenwriter Michael Diliberti) is similar to a 2003 incident in Pennsylvania that ended with a pizza-delivery man getting blown to smithereens. Turning real tragedy into fictional comedy may be tasteless, but it’s nothing new.
No, the problems here are the all-too-familiar sex-and-stoner humor, unconvincing relationships and crudely directed action scenes.
The actors, including Aziz Ansari as Nick’s best friend and fellow bank robber and Michael Pena as the fearsome hit man, play their caricatured roles with zest. What they can’t do is make sense of the story, which includes a flamethrower, exploding watermelons and a surprise ending that observant viewers will see coming a mile away.
“30 Minutes or Less,” from Columbia Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: **
Three million people lined the streets of Sao Paulo in 1994 for Ayrton Senna’s funeral and another 100 million watched on television. The champion race-car driver who died in a crash at the age of 34 was a Brazilian hero who lifted the spirits of a country plagued by poverty and repression.
His story is told with passion and flair in “Senna,” a documentary that chronicles his meteoric rise, three Formula One titles, bitter feud with rival Alain Prost, strong Catholic faith and shocking death at the San Marino Grand Prix.
Asif Kapadia’s film features of lot of seldom-seen footage from Senna’s races and personal life, including harrowing shots taken from an onboard camera in his car just before his fatal crash into a wall.
Prost criticized Senna’s reckless driving style and pious pronouncements about religion. While the documentary doesn’t shy away from Senna’s faults, it’s clearly a tribute to a racing legend who captured the imagination of his sport and nation.
“Senna,” from Producers Distribution Agency, is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: ***
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)