There's certainly no shortage of low budget time travel thrillers, as films like Primer and Timecrimes have swept the indie sci-fi scene and continued to produced on a fairly regular basis. Ripping a hole in the space-time continuum used to require a souped up DeLorean, but now anyone with a camera and a sturdy screenplay can manifest a respectable character study that's propelled by the always fascinating temporal displacement. Bob Gebert's 11 Minutes Ago is a recent example of how this tendency to create the poor man's time travel yarn persists among those eager to break into the business; unfortunately, though, it's not as crisply written (or directed) as either of the previously mentioned films.
The story follows a guy named Pack (Ian Michaels) who's managed to create a device that allows him to travel back in time. Pack hales from 48 years in the future, and his purpose in visiting the early 21st century is to collect air samples. He's doing thishere comes the environmental punch lineto try and prevent an air contamination epidemic that has drastically reduced birthrates and threatened the perpetuation of mankind as a species. Pack's machine has its limitations, though. He can only stay in the past for 11 minutes at a time, and he has to be in the dark in order to "tumble" (that's what the act of time traveling is called) forward to his year of origin. Why he absolutely has to be in the dark is never explained, but the reason is quite obvious: as already clarified, 11 Minutes Ago is working on a very limited budget. Adding nifty effects a la Back to the Future or The Terminator is out of the question, and it's safe to say that throwing in spectacular CGI sequences would serve only as an odd contrast to the purposefully amateur nature of the footage we're provided with. But I digress. As Pack works to complete his mission, he must navigate the perils of a low budget wedding reception (is there a theme at work here?) and a camera crew who's decided to document his shenanigans instead of the nuptial proceedings. One would think that he'd be concerned about creating paradoxes, so on and so forth, but no; this guy doesn't mind disclosing some fairly sensitive information about the future, and he's a ladies man to boot. His infatuation with a bridesmaid named Cynthia (Christina Mauro) causes him to revisit the same two hour time span over and over again in order to try and woo her. Talk about deja vu.
While there are some smart moments in 11 Minutes Ago, it ultimately feels like a short story that was wedged into a particularly dry issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine as filler. Brief allusions to the future act as teasers, and the chemistry between Pack and Cynthia is akin to a faltering EKG, hitting high and low points at sporadic intervals. It never really achieves any degree of credibility, as it becomes increasingly difficult to accept the notion that these two have fallen in love after only briefly flirting. It's true that after each sojourn to the past Pack must spend 3 months preparing for his next 11 minute session with Cynthia, and as the story progresses his range of emotions suggest that he's had ample time to consider his feelings and has become genuinely smitten with her. Still, he manages to dish out some of the worst pillow talk since Attack of the Clones, and Cynthia's acceptance of this mushy mumbling is a real test of a viewer's patience.
The movie throws in the obligatory item (here, a playing card) or reference that will, of course, be explained later in the film. This has been done to suggest that it's a brainy sci-fi offering, but many of these revelations, which occur late in the movie, feel flat and contrived. It seems that Bob Gebert and company wanted to create something that might pass as a decidedly more calm, maybe even introverted cousin to 12 Monkeys, and one could argue that the lack of tangible effects in Terry Gilliam's piece is proof that flashy effects aren't necessary to get the job done. 12 Monkeys, however, does have one thing that 11 Minutes Ago doesn'ta memorable story that causes the audience to feel like they have a stake in what's happening on screen. Sadly, that sense of urgency is missing here, and this is what causes the whole thing to implode in on itself in a singularity of blinding intensity.
Many people would say that all you need is love; I'd argue that you need one heck of a compelling story, too.
Review by piratecannon from the Internet Movie Database.