One year ago, Jeff Hannah (Adam Baldwin) was part of the teenage Cobras gang who stalked the mean streets of Los Angeles, but one night he felt their leader Cinco (Danny De La Paz) went too far when they heard a rival gang was in their territory and the violence was way out of proportion to scaring them off in a less aggressive manner as Jeff would have wanted. So it was that fateful night that he resigned membership from the Cobras, and vowed to apply himself in school, get a girlfriend, and generally take the straight and narrow path. But now, Cinco is not finished with him...
Teenage gang movies featuring actors who looked at least in their twenties, and at most in their forties, were all the rage in thrillers designed for the youth market back in the nineteen-eighties, and 3:15 was no exception. It went by a number of titles, including Class of 89 (to tie in spuriously with Class of 1984) and simply Cobras, which got it confused with the Sylvester Stallone vehicle with a similar name from the same year. Really it was more a high school drama posing as a thriller, taking the form of High Noon when our hero has a deadline to contend with since the bad guys have arranged to get rid of him for good, at the place of education itself, which may remind you of the cult comedy Three O'Clock High.
Except this was first, and contained no laughs, unless you're the sort who likes to chortle at the fashions of yesteryear. Baldwin had starred as the main man in My Bodyguard six years before, and here he was still playing the teen, though in the tough guy mould that would prove his stock in trade over the rest of his career. In this case, in spite of looking older than your average student teacher, he was the moral compass of the story as he tries to stick to his textbooks when the Cobras do their worst to force his hand and start with the aggro once again. Doing her best to prevent this was Jeff's nice girlfriend Sherry, played by cult eighties cutie Deborah Foreman halfway through her run of work which never saw her in a blockbuster.
But films like these tend to build a following nonetheless, and as she made so many of this genre business it was natural she would have a bunch of fans seeking out her work, even as much of it drifted into obscurity, such as 3:15 did. Here she was well cast as a girl people would want to protect from harm, which in this case proved to be the partners of the Cobras in the school's girl gang (yes, they had one of those too) who are out to get her when Cinco's pressure on Jeff fails to reap rewards. But really, Foreman had better roles elsewhere, and it wasn't much fun watching her get beaten up even if it did set the mayhem of the last act in motion, which felt a long time coming what with most of the plot taken up with a lot of soul searching for Jeff.
The actual reason he's targeted after a whole year of having nothing to do with his old gang happens when the ineffectual headmaster (Rene Auberjonois), essentially the equivalent of the cop movie council leader whose hands are tied and so forth, allows the police to bust a drugs ring and Jeff gets framed by Cinco when he refuses to cover for them. De La Paz made for a memorable villain even if his ne'erdowell cohorts didn't, seething his way wide-eyed through taunting dialogue, and the rest of the cast was peppered with interesting faces, including Ed Lauter as the man the headmaster talks to in his office and serves no other purpose, Mario Van Peebles showing off his muscles as yet another gang leader, though he's on Jeff's side, Wings Hauser as Sherry's dad (his wife played her mother), and in a small role watch for a pre-fame Gina Gershon as a hardcase: she's instantly recognisable even under that warpaint. It all ends as you'd expect, with the showdown of violence, but you would have wanted more excitement leading up to that. Music by Gary Chang.