By Kristy Puchko | Film | May 7, 2018 |
By Kristy Puchko | Film | May 7, 2018 |
On August 28, 2003, Erie, Pennsylvania became home to the most diabolical bank robbery in U.S. history. A pizza delivery man named Brian Wells was lured out on a call, then ambushed by attackers who locked a bomb around his neck and demanded he rob a bank in exchange for its removal. Wells would die that day, leaving behind the question of whether he was an accomplice, a victim, or both.
Netflix revisits the twisted case of Brian Wells in Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. In this documentary series, filmmakers Trey Borzillieri and Barbara Schroeder interview the officers and FBI agents who worked the case, the news reporters who covered it, and the locals who lived through it. But most crucially, they speak at length with Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the convicted mastermind and alleged “evil genius,” who has more than the death of Wells at her feet.
This story might ring a bell, either because you remember the worldwide news coverage of the collar-bomb bank robber, or because you’ve seen 30 Minutes Or Less, a studio comedy that came out one year after Diehl-Armstrong’s conviction. Watching the first two episodes of Evil Genius made me curious about the 2011 comedy I missed at the time of its release. How close did it come to the real thing? And did it really intend to poke fun at a gruesome crime that concluded with a man exploding on live television?
Screenwriters Matthew Sullivan and Michael Diliberti won praise for their original spec script 30 Minutes Or Less in 2009, when it scored a coveted spot on the Black List, a collection of “the best” unproduced scripts circulating Hollywood. Its logline read simply: “A comedy about a pizza delivery guy on an unlikely caper.”
By 2010, Ben Stiller’s production company was in development on the dark comedy. In May of 2011, THR reported Zombieland’s Jesse Eisenberg and director Ruben Fleischer would reteam for 30 Minutes or Less, which already had Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride on board. None of this news coverage made mention of Wells or the crime that took his life.
It wasn’t until right ahead of the film’s August release—nearly 8 years to the day of the robbery—that news sources caught on to the similarities between this comedy and the infamous Wells case. Then, a Sony rep claimed “neither the filmmakers nor the stars of 30 Minutes or Less were aware of the crime prior to their involvement in the film.”
Wells’s family wasn’t buying it. His sister told the Associated Press, “It’s hard for me to grasp how other human beings can take delight and pride in making such a movie and consider it a comedy… I don’t think it’s funny to laugh at the innocent who are victimized by criminals, who care nothing for human life.”
Here’s a rundown of how they compare. Is 30 Minutes Or Less based on the Wells case? Judge for yourself.
The Pizza Delivery Guy
Set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 30 Minutes or Less follows Nick (Eisenberg), a crass twenty-something pizza boy, who is described as a “manchild” who eat Lunchables for dinner and teases his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) about the time he slept with Chet’s twin sister. (“You’re twins. Did you feel it when I was fucking her?”)
Mama Mia Pizzeria employee Brian Wells was 46 at the time of the crime, and was described by his landlady as “very friendly, very nice, almost child-like.” She also noted his love of puzzles, particularly the scavenger hunt advertised in the local newspaper.
Wells’s family has long defended his good name and insisted on his innocence, but some believe that Wells was a willing accomplice in the crime. One investigator interviewed in Evil Genius remarked that Wells’s calm behavior during the robbery does not suggest a man who believes an actual bomb is locked to his person. However, no physical evidence was recovered at Wells’s home that tied him to the bomb’s building.
30 Minutes Or Less offers a deranged duo who are crude, loud-mouthed, trigger-happy man-children with major daddy issues who spur a plan for patricide. Furious and impulsive Dwayne (Danny McBride) convinces his best friend Travis (Nick Swardson), who is mechanically skilled and loyal to a fault, to make him a bomb for a kidnapping/robbery plan.
Mechanically gifted eccentric William “Bill” Rothstein lived near the location where Wells was ambushed and affixed to a bomb. But he didn’t come into police’s sights until he called them about a dead man in his freezer. He blamed his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong for the corpse, but raised eyebrows with his unprompted declaration, “This has nothing to do with the Wells case.”
Evil Genius introduces Rothstein at the end of episode one, via his call to the police. Episode two digs into his tumultuous and decades-long relationship with Diehl-Armstrong, her “nasty” and selfish character, and her string of old boyfriends who have ended up dead. Diehl-Armstrong is credited as the brains behind the bank robbery, but some believe that Rothstein was her accomplice and the maker of the bomb that killed Wells.
Tired of waiting for his father to die to get his inheritance, Dwayne hires a hitman named Chango (Michael Peña). But to pay for the hit, Dwayne needs money, so “let’s force some dumb motherfucker to rob a bank for us.”
Following the arrest of Diehl-Armstrong, her fishing buddy Kenneth Barnes claimed she had tried to hire him to kill her father, who she felt was wasting away the fortune she’d hoped to inherit. It was Barnes’s belief that she set up the bank robbery to fund the hit.
At the end of his shift, Nick delivers a pizza to a remote location, a junkyard. There, he is ambushed by two men in gorilla masks. They strap a bomb to him and demand he rob a bank if he wants to live. They give him directions and nine hours to pull off the heist.
At the end of his shift, Wells delivers a pizza to a remote location, a radio station transmission tower at the end of a dirt road. Before his death, Wells told police it was there that “black people” accosted him and strapped the bomb to him. (Police found no evidence that black people had anything to do with the crime.) Long handwritten notes directed how to carry off the robbery, and where to go tp find more notes, more locations, and ultimately the key to unlock the bomb from his neck. In Evil Genius they refer to it as a scavenger hunt, not unlike the kind Wells was known to relish.
Nick and Chet carry toy guns, wear ski masks, and demanded $100,000. They order everyone in the bank to lie on the ground, and accidentally shoot someone. Confronted by police, Nick flashes the bomb to scare them off, then comes a wacky car chase.
Wells entered the bank without a mask, but carried a cane-gun. He handed the clerk a note demanding $250,000. No one was taken hostage or hurt; he was in and out without a major incident. Police apprehended him shortly afterward.
The masterminds in 30 Minutes Or Less warn the pizza delivery boy not to try to take off the bomb vest, because it is booby-trapped and has remote detonation capabilities. It’s a C4-bomb strapped to his chest, which can be hidden under his oversized jacket.
The bomb that killed Wells had fake booby-traps all over the device. Evil Genius reveals how there were wires with no purpose, and a cell phone meant to look like the bomb had remote detonation, which it did not. The bomb was locked onto its victim like a giant handcuff around his neck. A collar clicked into place, and demanded two keys to be unlocked. Its makers gave Wells 55 minutes before detonation.
Dwayne planned to kill the pizza deliveryman by setting off the bomb anyway, to assure no loose ends. But Nick survives and uses his brush with felony and death as a wake-up call that inspires him to confess his feelings to Chet’s sister, quit his shitty job, and finally stand up for himself. He escapes Dwayne, Travis and Chango, gets the girl, the money, and a happy ending.
Wells ran out of time. Eerie police called for a bomb squad. But they didn’t arrive in time. When the bomb started beeping, Wells begged for help to no avail. News cameras reporting live captured the fatal explosion, which is shown in Evil Genius. Investigators later tested to see if Wells could have possibly completed the scavenger hunt before the bomb’s timer went off, and determined it was impossible. Whoever strapped that bomb on Wells did it with full knowledge it would kill him.
Evil Genius hits Netflix on on May 11th.
See Also: What ‘Evil Genius’ Leaves Out About Brian Wells’ Involvement in the Pizza Bombing
‘Evil Genius’ Review: The Trouble With Getting Close To A Killer
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Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.
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The plot of the film bears a resemblance to a real-life bank robbery gone wrong that resulted in the death of Brian Wells in 2003. As with the film, Wells was a pizza delivery man who was forced to wear a bomb and then robbed a bank under orders from the plot's mastermind in an effort to have the bomb defused.What is the movie about Brian Wells? ›
Jessica Hoopsick, a woman who was Wells' friend and sex worker, confessed on the Netflix documentary Evil Genius that she set Wells up to participate in the crime by providing his name and delivery schedule to one of the conspirators in exchange for money and drugs.Who is the killer in Evil Genius? ›
Diehl-Armstrong also claimed Wells was in on the robbery. A few months later, a co-conspirator named Kenneth Barnes was arrested, who claimed Diehl-Armstrong was actually the mastermind behind the plot.What is the movie about Marjorie Diehl Armstrong? ›
Netflix bills Evil Genius as the true story of America's most diabolical bank heist, in 2003 in Erie, Pennsylvania.Who is the bad guy in 30 Minutes or Less? ›
Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza deliverer who lives a fairly ordinary, boring life -- until he crosses paths with two aspiring criminal masterminds (Danny McBride, Nick Swardson), who kidnap him, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank for them.
30 Minutes or Less (2011) - Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate - IMDb.Where is Brian Wells buried? › What is the movie about the Mississippi Boy? ›
'Till' review: Remembering Emmett Till's mother and her brave pursuit of justice In 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy was lynched in Mississippi.What is the movie about the life of Brian Wilson? ›
In the 80s, he's a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy.In the 60s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece.How did evil genius end? ›
However, Evil Genius ends with a huge revelation from Jessica Hoopsick – the sex worker who was Wells' friend – who reveals that she was involved in the heist as she was approached to find a "gopher" who could be scared into robbing a bank.
- 1 Full Metal Jackie. A weapons saleswoman that can provide all the right equipment and a helping hand.
- 2 Sir Daniel. ...
- 3 Dr. ...
- 4 Eli Barracuda. ...
- 5 Jubei. ...
- 6 Clara Jones. ...
- 7 Incendio. ...
- 8 Fugu Furukawa. ...
a person who has a strong bad influence over other people: The film was about an evil genius who wanted to control the world.What is the movie about gas station abduction? ›
When his wife suddenly vanishes at a gas station, an ordinary man takes extraordinary measures to find her even as he himself falls under suspicion. Watch all you want. Gerard Butler stars in this tense action thriller with Jaimie Alexander, Russell Hornsby and Ethan Embry.Is the miniseries True Story a true story? ›
True Story is not a true story (2021).What is the movie about diver French? ›
|The Big Blue Le Grand Bleu|
|Directed by||Luc Besson|
|Screenplay by||Luc Besson Robert Garland Marilyn Goldin Jacques Mayol Marc Perrier|
|Story by||Luc Besson|
|Produced by||Patrice Ledoux|
- #8: Peter Stormare. ...
- #7: Christopher Walken. ...
- #6: Christoph Waltz. ...
- #5: Gary Oldman. ...
- #4: Mads Mikkelsen. ...
- #3: Alan Rickman. ...
- #2: Willem Dafoe. ...
- #1: Christopher Lee. We'll say it: British guys make the best villains.
Later on in the film when the bad guys were framed at the gala by Marmalade, he uses his helicopter to steal the heart-shaped meteorite and bring it back to the lair.Who is Kate engaged to? ›
Justin Long and Kate Bosworth are engaged and sharing private details about their love story.How old is Kate from the office? › Who is the female TV presenter Kate? ›
About Kate Garraway...
Most famous for her role on ITV breakfast show, Good Morning Britain, Kate currently presents the show alongside Susanna Reid, Piers Morgan and Ben Shephard. Kate also spent many years presenting Daybreak, GMTV and ITV News. Kate also hosts Mid-Mornings with Kate Garraway on Smooth Radio.
On May 3, 1998, at 89 years of age, Raymond died of pneumonia at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. His body was interred next to Jeanette MacDonald's in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn, Glendale.Is Dawn Wells buried? ›
Gilligan's Island Dawn Wells buried with her mom after planning headstone and final resting place years before death | The US Sun.How deep is Brian Jones buried? ›
Jones was reportedly buried 10 feet (3 m) deep in Cheltenham Cemetery, to prevent exhumation by trophy hunters. His body was embalmed, with hair bleached white, and was placed in an air-tight silver and bronze casket. Watts and Wyman were the only Rolling Stones who attended the funeral.What movie is detective racist town in Mississippi? ›
A black Philadelphia police detective is mistakenly suspected of a local murder while passing through a racially hostile Mississippi town, and after being cleared is reluctantly asked by the...Where did they film Mississippi Burning? ›
Parker and Colesberry had difficulty finding a small town for the story setting before choosing LaFayette, Alabama, to act as scenes set in the fictional town of Jessup County, Mississippi, with other scenes being shot in a number of locales in Mississippi.Is the movie boy based on a true story? ›
BOY was filmed in Waihau Bay in the Bay of Plenty, where Waititi grew up. The film is inspired by "true and imagined memories".Why was life of Brian controversial? ›
The film's themes of religious satire were controversial at the time of its release, drawing accusations of blasphemy and protests from some religious groups. Thirty-nine local authorities in the United Kingdom either imposed an outright ban, or imposed an X (18 years) certificate.How many Beach Boys are still alive? ›
Original member Dennis Wilson died in 1983, drowning at Marina Del Rey. Carl died in 1998 of lung cancer. The current "official" Beach Boys are Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, but the current touring lineup only includes Mike and Bruce.Is there swearing in life of Brian? ›
The film, now considered a classic, includes a character called Biggus Dickus, several uses of a swear word and a scene in which actor Graham Chapman appears naked.How old is Cadel in Evil Genius? ›
Cadel Piggott is a seven-year-old genius with a knack for systems. He can do just about anything: disable home security systems, hack into government databases and commit credit card fraud.
Protect Your Evil Genius!
There's one final, important thing to note: if your Evil Genius dies, you lose the game. You absolutely must protect him or her at all costs.
If they die on the World Domination map, they will return to the island. The exception is if they are killed by a Super Agent; if a Super Agent does 80% or more of the henchman's health in damage, the henchman will lose one life. After losing three lives, they will be dead permanently.Which is the best starter island in Evil Genius 2? ›
Definitely the most straightforward of the islands, it has a solid layout for a quick start. It's located in a part of the North Atlantic that's near Africa.
Easily one of the most powerful and destructive Deception henchmen in Evil Genius 2, Incendio is a cover-focused henchman who can distract both Agents and Tourists alike with his magic tricks.Who is the best henchman in Evil Genius 2? ›
- Jubei (Muscle Henchman) He was popular in the original Evil Genius game, and he remains popular in its sequel. ...
- Magnolia Ming (Science Henchman) She has two abilities: Contagion and Cure. ...
- I.R.I.S (Science Henchman) ...
- Sir Daniel (Muscle Henchman) ...
- Carl Cafard. ...
- Full Metal Jackie.
In Roman religion, the genius (Latin: [ˈɡɛnɪ. ʊs]; plural geniī) is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died.Who left evil geniuses? ›
EG placed third at The International 2016. After the tournament the team released ppd and Fear, who both decided to retire from playing Dota 2 to pursue other opportunities within the organization. They were replaced by Andreas Franck "Cr1t-" Nielsen, who would go on to become the new captain, and Arteezy.What is objective 6 in evil genius? ›
Objectives. Choose a Doomsday Device and prepare for its construction. You must build a laboratory to accomplish this goal. Once a laboratory has been built, the Codex of Knowledge can be stolen from a Siberian research lab.What did Ariel Castro do to his victims? ›
Between 2002 and 2004, Ariel Castro kidnapped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus from the streets of Cleveland, Ohio and later held them captive in his home of 2207 Seymour Avenue in the city's Tremont neighborhood.Is abduction the same as kidnapping? ›
Kidnapping is usually accompanied with a ransom for money or other gains. However, a crime of abduction is considered to be when a person has been taken away from his or her original location by persuading him or her, by some act of fraud or with a forceful way that may include violence.
No, Cleveland Abduction is not on Netflix US.What is the plot of the True Story? ›
A world-famous comedian desperately searches for a way out after a night in Philadelphia with his brother threatens to sabotage more than his success. Watch all you want. Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes star in this twisty crime thriller executive produced by Hart and Eric Newman ("Narcos").What happens in the end of True Story? ›
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- 17 Delhi Crime (2019)
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- 15 Inventing Anna (2022)
- 14 Mindhunter (2017)
- 13 Candy (2022)
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The story of Carl Brashear, the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver, and the man who trained him. The story of Carl Brashear, the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver, and the man who trained him.What is the scuba diving ghost movie? ›
|The Deep House|
|Distributed by||Apollo Films (France) Paramount Home Entertainment (United States)|
|Release dates||June 30, 2021 (France) November 5, 2021 (United States)|
|Running time||85 minutes|
30 Minutes or Less (2011)
In 2010, the film set up shop in Grand Rapids for four months of production, and the city is referenced multiple times throughout the movie. After the bank robbery takes place, a big car chase scene rolls down South Division Avenue between Fulton Street and Wealthy Street.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Helpful•19. ...
- Ludington, Michigan, USA. Helpful•12. ...
- Michigan, USA. Helpful•9. ...
- Taco Boy, 75 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. (The restaurant where Dwayne and Travis are eating tacos) ...
- Vito's Pizza, 658 Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
Enjoyable, but not as a comedy. 30 Minutes or Less takes a rather dark and yet funny premise, but then plays it more like an action movie. Eisenberg is strapped with a bomb and is told to rob a bank. What's quite peculiar about this film is that it focuses so much on the Danny McBride character.
But in 1993, after the company was faced with two lawsuits from people who were killed or injured by delivery drivers rushing to get pizzas delivered within the 30 minute timeframe, the company dropped the guarantee in the U.S.Is American Pie based in Michigan? ›
Much of American Pie is based on the writer's days at East Grand Rapids High School in Michigan. In the film, the town is called "East Great Falls", and the high school bears the same school colors — blue and gold — along with a similar mascot — the Trailblazers instead of the Pioneers.What movie was based in Grand Rapids Michigan? ›
1. Road to Perdition (2002)Where was a small town in Wisconsin filmed? ›
It was filmed in Palmyra, although the movie says Rhinelander. Filming in Palmyra was chosen and also West Allis for the stadium scene in which my husband Rudy and I, Mary Ralian were the 2 extras first in line at the ticket taker area.What is the most filmed street in America? ›
Hollywood Boulevard is the Most Filmed Street in the US
So, across the years, the Boulevard has offered not just convenience for location scouts but a ripening charisma. And that's to say nothing of its secret alleys.
1 The Blair Witch Project (1999) – 8 days
Yes, The Blair Witch Project is a found-footage horror, but filming one isn't easy.
1 Los Angeles, California
Far and away the most popular location in the world for filming movies and television shows, Los Angeles has been the cultural center for the film industry since the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s.
For the most part, films that are 80+ minutes are pretty safe in any context. But once you dip below the 80 minute mark, your film may not qualify for certain festivals, sales agents, and so on.How many hours of Netflix should I watch? ›
The headline is that Netflix has 2.2 million minutes of content currently available. Translated into years, that's just over four years of continuous content if you were to sit down and watch it all in a single sitting. That roughly translates to 36,000 hours in total. How does that compare with other libraries?What movie is age every 30 minutes? ›
After the children rapidly turn into teenagers and Agnes suddenly dies, the families conclude that the beach is aging them, with the occupants undergoing the equivalent of one year of aging every 30 minutes. At least one member of each family has an underlying medical condition.
Delivery guarantee applicable at the first barrier point. Domino's does not penalize its drivers for late delivery. 30 minutes or free not applicable when store operating conditions or not suitable , to be announced at the time of order taking.Can I get free pizza if it's late? ›
Pizza Hut accepts a maximum liability is Rs. 300 in the event of a late delivery for non-bulk orders. '30 minutes or free' promise is eligible till the first barrier point (security guard/reception etc.) Pizza Hut reserves the right to withdraw the service promise without prior information.What is the Papa John's 30-minute rule? ›
You must call the restaurant where your pizza was ordered and made. The claim must be made the same day as the original order within thirty (30) minutes of the time of delivery or pick-up. No more than two (2) slices of the original pizza may have been eaten and you must show a valid proof of purchase upon request.