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.
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.