The idea is quite simple, and its simplicity doesn’t bother me at first glance. The title Sixty Minutes reminds me of movies like 88 Minutes, but the plot of this movie is not based on any bomb that has to be defused or a criminal has to be caught. The story of Sixty Minutes revolves around the life of an MMA fighter who has to decide whether to participate in his next fight or travel a fair distance and meet his daughter before 6 pm, which, if you are good at decoding movie titles, means that he has to make this choice at 5 pm.
The stakes of this movie are interesting and a little bit silly at the same time. If our MMA fighter doesn’t reach his daughter in time, then he might lose custody of her. Before you ask, there isn’t a court case going on; it’s just her birthday, and 6 p.m. is the cutoff time set by his ex-wife. Also, the animal rescue center closes at six, where a cat named ‘Onion,’ which means a lot to the birthday girl, has to be picked up. It sounds like a sweet children’s movie where the father had to be taught a mild lesson in setting his priorities straight. But the brutality in this movie convinces you that it is certainly not a children’s movie.
The story begins when Octavio Bergmann (Emilio Sakraya) is gearing up for his match, and we get introduced to his team, led by Paul (Dennis Mojen), his best friend of sorts, and Cosima (Marie Mouroum), his trainer. Octavio had promised not to miss his daughter Leonie’s birthday, but the trouble was that the fight was planned for the very same day. In comes his ex-wife, Mini, who gives him an earful about making false promises. But it wasn’t one, according to Octavio. He truly was planning to make it in time, as he was sure he could beat his opponent pretty quickly. The confidence was shattered as he realized that the fight was delayed, and Mini called again to make sure he understood what was happening. She was going in for full custody of Leonie. Octavio’s attempt to ditch his fight and make a run to reach Leonie in time becomes the catalyst for a lot of violence happening in the streets of Berlin. There are several parties involved who want Octavio to fight no matter what, and he doesn’t have time to do anyone any favors. He has sublime clarity in the moment.
The ‘race against time’ is always exciting, I feel. There can be cool chases, some heart-pumping action sequences, and that sinking feeling that the protagonist won’t make it in time. The stakes for the race against time have to be pretty high, though. I’m not saying they aren’t here. The young father might not get to meet his daughter again, and that’s quite a big deal, but the way the exposition was set up felt lame because it came with no context. We don’t get a full picture with regard to Mini’s absurd demand that he show up before 6 p.m. There is the fact that Leonie hasn’t eaten since the morning because she is waiting for Octavio to come home with the cake. But still, it wasn’t a fully fleshed-out reason for the movie to base the whole second act on. It’s a nice conceit to talk about the gravity of relationships, and sometimes a child can go through a heartbreaking experience if a parent disappoints them, but that’s just on paper, perhaps. The filmmaking doesn’t properly juxtapose the two thoughts together: a father fighting for his life to get back to his daughter, and a daughter waiting for him back home. I should add that there is an attempt to do that in some parts, but the action sequences take precedence, and we are made to stay with the father’s emotional experience almost exclusively. The daughter is only shown perhaps a couple of times. This weakened the film, made it more macho, and avoided the sentimentality that it had the scope to explore. Perhaps director Oliver Kienle wanted to avoid the mushy-mushy feelings, but I feel it would have just made the action sequences much more meaningful than they were.
Coming to the fight scenes and the whole choreography, they’re not like the Raid movies, but they aren’t bad either. The action is brilliantly choreographed and feels very real and authentic. The only sore point is the repetitive nature of them and their timing in the story. It almost felt like the idea was to score the film on fight scenes, but it didn’t feel like an inspired move. The fight sequences were tiring, some were poorly lit, and there wasn’t enough emotional engagement to get viewers to care about them. There is one with the man whom Octavio was supposed to fight earlier, before he ran away, that felt the weakest. The villains of this movie seem too inspired by the histrionics or the evil calmness of some of the Hollywood villains.
The level of filmmaking, when talking about evoking an emotional response, is not where it would have liked to reach. There were many instances where the film tried to get into the emotional world of Octavio, but there seemed to be only a surface-level inquiry. There was no time for anything else, it seemed. Octavio’s parents come into the picture to give an emotional explanation for why he was behaving in the manner he was, and it felt a bit like a copout; it felt like an afterthought rather than a properly fleshed-out idea. That being said, the film has enough integrity to provide a cohesive element to the story, even though the pieces start to fall off in some places. Sixty Minutes is very entertaining in some parts and a little predictable in others, but it weakens its grip mostly towards the end and then makes us feel that it was always the idea. The emphasis was on the idea that love cannot have time limits, and if viewed from that angle, the film seems to have some emotional depth. But if viewed from the point of view of the thrilling chases and kickass fight scenes, the father-daughter relationship begins to seem like a pretext to jump-start the film. I tilted toward the latter lens by the end of the film, but I hoped to tilt toward the former.