World building for any film takes a great deal of skill and especially true when shoved into a thirty-minute short. That’s precisely what writer/directed Steve Baran does in his short film Five Minute Rush. First, let’s be honest; the world building exists solely to showcase a fantastic fight scene that takes up the vast majority of the short. But Baran refuses to take any shortcuts in his production.
We open with a woman recording a video for her husband just to let him know she misses him. The video ends with the sound of a break-in and two thugs fridging said woman. Our story then jumps five years later, in the gritty, city streets now littered with violence, prostitution, and a drug war between two rival mobs. Cut to a news report of the murder of one of the crime bosses, setting up a turf takeover by the remaining boss known as Stavros Zane (Thomas Newman).
Meanwhile, sitting in a police interrogation room is the only person to survive the hit, Braden Vasco (Steve Baran). Detectives Paraguini (Artine Brown) and Medford (Bruce Blain) start shaking down Vasco and offer to cut him a deal. Reduced charges, if he gets close to Stavros and tricks him into revealing the location of the next drug shipment. Vasco reluctantly agrees. Mind you, this all happens in the first five minutes involves a few set locations, several actors, and footage of a city in turmoil.
“…our hero Vasco is not who he says he is. In fact, he has been working against Stavros from the very beginning…”
Vasco is delivered to Stavros’ drug lair, and the detectives assure him that he’s safe. As Vasco enters, the detectives are called off. This can’t be good. Continuing the film’s high production values, Vasco enters a large room where women, dressed only in their underwear, are preparing and packaging large bricks of some sort of high grade narcotic. Vasco heads upstairs to meet Stavros and everything goes black.
When Vasco wakens, Stavros begins brutally beating Vasco and fires a couple of nails from a nailgun into his arms and legs. You see, our hero Vasco is not who he says he is. In fact, he has been working against Stavros from the very beginning, and Stavros has known it for quite some time. We then get a little sneak peek at some horrific acts on video against Vasco’s sister and child.
Again, this is all set up for a spectacular fight between Vasco and Stavros’ gang. Yes, our hero single-handedly takes on what appears to be eight or nine highly-trained thugs. It starts with his escape from being tied up, moving on to gunplay, then some hand-to-hand combat with knives and finally, some cool and inventive moves using warehouse tools and equipment.
“Right from the start, we understand this world and what’s going on in it.”
What we ultimately have with Five Minute Rush is a fantastic piece of storytelling and some damn good fight sequences. I already talked about storytelling. Right from the start, we understand this world and what’s going on in it. As plot twists take place, we’re never lost. We know exactly what’s happening at all times.
The fighting is the real star. It’s over the top, and it’s gruesome with a capital “B” for blood. Thankfully, it falls just a little short of gory. Some of the torture is hard to watch in the age of #MeToo, and I intentionally glossed over what actually happened to Vasco’s young daughter, but they went there. That said, the progression of the fight made sense and told a story within itself. Everything is measured and happens for a reason.
In the end, Five Minute Rush is a story that can be continued. It can be expanded. It’s a uber-violent tale that has some legs to it. It’s an excellent, tidy package with a story to tell and action set pieces worth watching several times over.
Five Minute Rush (2019) Written and directed by Steve Baran. Starring Steve Baran, Thomas Newman, Artine Brown, Bruce Blain, Larry Hamm.
8.5 out of 10 stars