I’ve got to be honest, when I am warned that a film I am seeing is best described as an ‘action-comedy’, I am usually somewhat of a sceptic. I tend to like my genres separate from one another, as I customarily struggle to find much humour in car chases and explosions. However, 30 Minutes or Less, which, as initially described, is a quintessential action-comedy, successfully forced me to eat my words, as it combined both antagonism and criminality, with a clever and undemanding brand of comedy, ultimately making for a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
30 Minutes or Less is the first film since Zombieland for rookie director Ruben Fleischer, as he teams up Jesse Eisenberg once again. Eisenberg plays Nick, an inadequate and feeble pizza delivery guy, with aspirations higher than that of his current profession.
It’s fair to say Nick, alongside his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) are jaded in life and looking for something stimulating and exciting to engage them for a while, although what occurs isn’t exactly what they had in mind, as dimwits Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) make Nick, against his will of course, rob a bank for them.
As Dwayne wants his Father (Fred Ward) killed for his fortune, he needs money to pay the assassin, and in order to do so, he straps a ticking bomb to Nick’s chest and gives the ultimatum of robbing a bank in quite a limited time-frame, or get blown up. Nick, along with the help of Chet, has no option but to oblige.
The film is almost like a hybrid between Dog Day Afternoon and Superbad, as it combines the fretfulness and trepidation that comes with bank robberies and ticking bombs, with the virtuousness of Nick and Chet, along with the pathetic and dense power employed by Dwayne and Travis.
Eisenberg, as per usual, is impressive as the lead role, although he is becoming dangerously close to typecasting himself for good as a geeky and naive youngster, in a similar vein to Michael Cera. Although in his defence, he is typecast as that particular character for a reason, as he plays such roles with a vulnerability and receptiveness which just makes him exceptionally easy to relate to and to be concerned for.
Ansari is also impressive, as he provides the film with all of the sharp one-liners, and he has managed to really perfect that awkward, self-conscious variety of humour. However, despite being comical throughout, it is evident on quite a few occasions that he is more notably a stand-up comedian than an actor, a profession he is also comparatively successful in. His timing is perfect, as are his facial expressions, but he does leave a lot to be desired in terms of a theatrical and dramatic performance.
McBride and Swardson are also relatively funny, although McBride just isn’t an actor who tends to have a positive impact on me. His brand of comedy suits the nature of the film, especially that of his pathetic character who thinks he is much more intellectual and authoritative that he actually is, but I just don’t really enjoy his work. Sorry Dan.
But ignoring my seemingly personal gripe with McBride, 30 Minutes or Less is a really pleasing feature. It’s relentless fun, and will certainly appeal to a wide audience, as it is, referring to my earlier point, a successful action-comedy, genuinely covering both genres well, therefore resulting in an entertaining and compelling film, that’s just non-stop enjoyment from start to end.