In 7 Minutes, writer-director Jay Martin depicts human interaction with an extraterrestrial’s sensibilities, as if the ways people actually move, function, gesture, and touch are wholly foreign to either his pen or lens. Aggressively foul, the film follows a trio of boneheads who commit a robbery to pay back a drug debt. Martin introduces each of the three through a narrative that shuttles back and forth between the ongoing stickup and the prior events that set the heist in motion. Genre work tends to thrive on rhythm, specificity, and a playful maneuvering and repackaging of convention, but Martin is out to blankly rehearse the thriller template (guns, masks, kidnapping, double-crossings, drug dealers), not make meaningful revisions to it.
Sam (Luke Mitchell) is nice-guy bonehead. He’s got a girlfriend, Kate (Leven Rambin). She works in a diner. He used to play football, but broke his ankle and didn’t really have a backup plan. He’s buds with aggressive bonehead Owen (Zane Holt) and clueless bonehead Mike (Jason Ritter), both of whom shadow Sam for no evident reason other than, well, that’s what Martin has decided. Even on paltry grounds of exposition, 7 Minutes is expertly incompetent. The trio decides on armed robbery after Owen flushes 60K worth of molly down a convenience-store toilet, thinking a hip cop has followed them. The knocks at the bathroom door lead to desperation, so Owen, who’s been unable to flush the entire stash, fishes five remaining capsules from the brown water and chomps them down. When he opens the door, an elder civilian awaits. When he gets to their car, the suspected cop waves as he passes them by, causing Owen to vomit the freshly ingested drugs.
Even if Martin intended such a sequence to be absurd (which he clearly doesn’t), the film would remain miles from a meaningful existence, since culturally shallow, ADD action films like Trainspotting have been around for nearly two decades, not to mention subsequent, wholly unhinged efforts like Crank: High Voltage. The primary reference point here is clearly Reservoir Dogs, though 7 Minutes is pre-school ma-cheese-mo compared to Quentin Tarantino’s considerably firmer debut.
All boxes for potential offences have been checked, but the film plays like Martin is conscious of none of it. When an elderly woman flashes a piece at a one of the gunmen, she’s blown away in graphic fashion, fitted with a slow-mo blast and exit wound. Dialogue ranges from Kate telling Sam after a high school football game that “I want to remember you like this,” to a girl responding to Sam’s broken-ankle story with “That’s terrible…got any E?” But the most infuriating aspect of Martin’s film is how mindlessly it considers any of its potential themes relating to class, race, gender, or even the white-bred masculinity that’s flexed in every dreadful scene. Whether because of race, shame, shelter, or fright, 7 Minutes remains white in the face throughout.