11_14 (2003)

Director: Greg Marcks

Starring: Rachael Leigh Cook, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Swayze, Hilary Swank, Ben Foster, Clark Gregg, Colin Hanks, Shawn Hatosy, Stark Sands, Henry Thomas

You’re a cop patrolling the streets at a late night hour. Like most officers of the law, yours is a thankless occupation. You’d give anything just to be able to drive home, but tonight of all nights your job demands otherwise. Your backseat is filling up with suspects of seemingly unrelated crimes, but they all have something in common. This is the kind of night that Officer Hannagan (Clark Gregg) is having, and it could have all been avoided if everyone had just stayed home.

It all begins at 11:14 PM with a drunk driver (Henry Thomas)’s car impacting with a man who, when his lifeless body is inspected, has a caved-in skull. At 11:09, three teenagers (Colin Hanks, Ben Foster, Stark Sands) are raising hell in a blue van when their joyride comes to an unexpectedly messy stop. At 10:59, two convenient store workers (Shawn Hatosy, Hilary Swank) conspire to rob the place. All of these people will wind up either in police custody or as wanted felons. Though they are not innocent of their crimes, their lives and those of others affected by their mistakes would not be in shambles were it not for the most deceitful, selfish person of them all.

The story of “11:14” is told using reverse chronology like in “Memento” or “Irreversible,” but is also broken into five segments, each of which begins five minutes before the previous one did, and all of which are ultimately linked by a common thread as they tell a new piece of the same story from a different cast member’s perspective as in “Pulp Fiction,” “Go,” or “Crash.” Like any good mystery, you won’t know how they connect until the fifth and final segment.

Does “11:14” come off as a little gimmicky? Well, sort of. If you were to tell the same story the traditional way, sapping all the mystery away, the movie would probably only need to be about half as long. Considering that the running time is already a mere 86 minutes, that’s really saying something. There is an excellent cast here. Veterans Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey are on hand. Hilary Swank, in-between Oscar wins, wears braces on her teeth for her role. Jason Segel also makes an appearance as a paramedic. Clark Gregg, still five years away from his career making role as Agent Coulson in the Marvel superhero movies, is quietly terrific as the police officer who is in over his head.

My favorite segment has to be the last one, not just because it’s the one where we finally find out what’s the cause of everything, but also because actress Rachael Leigh Cook (who plays the daughter of Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey’s characters) is a lot more fun when she’s not bogged down by some poorly written and sappy teen comedy. “11:14” also wins points with me for including the late 80’s tune “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama, which also memorably played in the soundtrack to the 1988 horror sequel “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.” The non-linear storytelling angle has been pulled off by better movies, but this one’s still very enjoyable in its own right. It’s a tad farfetched. Still, I don’t feel that it’s completely absurd to think that, in a small town where everybody knows everybody anyway, a series of events could transpire in a single night involving several people who are either close friends or passing acquaintances. One thing’s for sure: The late night news report would not be boring.

  1. Elmo Shell says:

    hmm sounds like something i would be interested in. like always good review.

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