30 Minutes or Less’ gets the job done … in 80 minutes

Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari have chemistry in 30 Minutes or Less, and maybe some dynamite.

Toward the beginning of 30 Minutes or Less, slacker pizza-delivery guy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) picks up three Lethal Weapon movies for him and his buddy Chet (Aziz Ansari) to watch. That’s a clue as to what kind of movie director Ruben Fleischer is trying to make: an anything-goes action-comedy with charismatic leads. He doesn’t really get there, but 30 Minutes is amusing enough in parts to bridge the gaps, and its brief running time (just over 80 minutes) doesn’t allow the audience any chances to stop and think about the giant plot holes.

The Details

30 Minutes or Less
Three stars
Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Rated R
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: 30 Minutes or Less
Rotten Tomatoes: 30 Minutes or Less

Those plot holes start with the elaborate set-up, in which Nick is strapped to a bomb and told he must rob $100,000 from a local bank or his kidnappers, a pair of dim-witted would-be criminal masterminds played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson, will detonate the explosives. Eisenberg and Ansari have genuine chemistry as friends who are dealing with conflicting trajectories in life, and while the whole ordeal does teach them some valuable lessons, those moments are never more important than the humor.

McBride and Swardson don’t fare as well, basically playing variations on their respective familiar, one-dimensional personas. The movie also has trouble reconciling the rather dark and serious tone of the escalating events with the lighthearted banter that pervades Michael Diliberti’s screenplay, but Fleischer keeps the pacing brisk enough and the jokes funny enough to mostly barrel through those problems. There’s plenty of time to mull over 30 Minutes’ flaws in retrospect, but in the moment, it efficiently gets where it needs to go.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

Get more Josh Bell

Previous Discussion:

  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

  • The three-day event—which will showcase more than 50 short films, along with one feature—kicks off with a free night of films at Backstage Bar and ...

  • Returning to the Palms, LVFF 2018 offers talked-about indie films shorts programs, animation, student films, parties and more.

  • Get More Film Stories
Top of Story