"11:14" is a mildly entertaining film. It sets up a structure that is reminiscent of films such as "Go," "Mystery Train," and "Pulp Fiction." The difference here is that it's nowhere near as fun as "Go" nor as substantial as the latter two. The structure of the film hooks you in, as does the wonderful cast that consists of Patrick Swayze, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Leigh Cook, Henry Thomas, Colin Hanks, Ben Foster, Shawn Hatosy and Hilary Swank. However, the puzzle that writer-director Greg Marcks creates lacks a compelling bigger picture that makes the film nothing more than exercise in gimmickry.
The story revolves around a series of events occurring around 11:14 p.m. in a small town called Middleton. A series of violent crimes occur in and around a 20 minute window before and after the fateful time stamp. All of the occurrences are investigated by a cop played by Clark Gregg ("State and Main"); he's barely present in the film but acts as an anchor for most of the seemingly separate, though inevitably intertwined stories. The movie begins when a drunk driver (Thomas), who is talking to his girlfriend on the phone as he crashes into a body that has been dropped from an overpass. His drunken state quickly leads him to cover-up his "crime." What follows is a series of stories that include two bumbling clerks at a local convenience store and the subsequent events that transpire after one of them (Hatosy) decides to rob the store. There are also three teenage kids roaming around town in a blue van causing mischief with pointless pranks that end in tragedy. Lastly, there's Cheri (Cook), who is manipulating two of her boyfriends into paying for an abortion that she doesn't need while her father (Swayze) puts together the events that occurred during the course of the night.
The premise in itself is intriguing but there isn't enough going on in the bigger scheme of things. Marcks peels back layer after layer only to leave us less interested in the story than we were at the beginning. The various stories are far too surface level to really care about. Rachel Leigh Cook's Cheri is a typical small town bad girl, who wants nothing more that to get out of town with her boyfriend. The problem is that this information is revealed too late in the film (as is most of the other pertinent information). Very little time is spent in getting to know any of these people. To say the least, there's a lot of potentially fascinating characters but the time spent with them is all too brief and too superficial to give the film any kind of weight.
One of the film's other problems is its inability to carry its tone. Marcks displays somewhat solid directing skills in handling his actors but his handling of the film's tone really flushes the enjoyment factor down the drain. Comedic moments feel much too drab or blasé and dramatic moments don't sustain any kind of real tension. These scenes are revealed rather than engaging, which could have helped the film elevate itself above its own gimmickry. It's this use of time that, at the very least, makes the film somewhat interesting to watch. It's fun to see how certain characters' stories overlap with other or how some of these characters are involved with other people in the film. The ultimate reveals near the film's end aren't remarkable but this no doubt due to the lack of depth.
Still, there are some nice performances by all involved. Hatosy brings a certain air e of naïveté to his antics with both Cook (as girlfriend Cheri) and with fellow convenience store worker as played by Swank. Swank plays her brace-faced character with a nice bit of backwoods flair; she's a bit reminiscent of her "Million Dollar Baby" persona, without the boxing bravado in that film. Swayze and Hershey are both solid as are Foster and Hanks. But it's Cook that stands out as she plays up a devilishly sweet sexiness in her character that works quiet well, especially considering the often good girl next door types she of portrays.
"11:14" is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Since the entire film takes place at night the overall look of the film is just that. Some of the darker scenes are grainy and full of specs. Most of the colors are slightly desaturated but this is most likely due to the nature of the film. Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut creates a nice overall look, with many of the compositions saturated in a blue or orange glow. There is some pixilation in spots but the overall visual presentation is well done.
The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS format. The DTS sounds solid as music is present all around in front and rears as are ambient noise and background sounds. Dialogue is crisp and clear as are the various sound effects. Music has a tendency to be overpowering in places but this doesn't drown out the dialogue or action too much. All in all, this is a fine sounding disc.
Included on the disc is an audio commentary with writer-director Marcks. He provides insight into the making of the film which is pretty standard fare. He talks about various aspects of the process from production design to cinematography to acting. The commentary is worth a listen for anyone interested in the film.
Also included is a 10 minute behind the scenes look "46 minutes to midnight – making of featurette." Most of the actors are on hand to give their thoughts on the film, which is nice but it's all too brief to give any real kind of insight into the making of the film.
Rounding out the extras is a storyboard to screen comparison of two scenes and a static storyboard gallery. There are a few deleted scenes and trailers for the film and for New Line's upcoming release "Havoc."
"11:14" isn't a bad film but it isn't a great one either. It relies too much on its structure in constructing a movie that hopes to create a fun and interesting puzzle. The problem is that once the puzzle is finished there is little interest left in anything that's going on. Had Marcks spent more time with the characters and given them more interaction with one another the film could have been more than just a stylistic experimentation on time and structure.