88 Minutes (2007)
“He has 88 minutes to solve a murder. His own.”
Director: Jon Avnet
Cast: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Ben McKenzie
Synopsis: On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
I don’t even know where to begin explaining what’s wrong with this wreckage of a movie, but so plentiful is the evidence of criminal film-making incompetence, I bet if I did I’d still be able to point out ludicrous plot developments, plot holes, examples of poor acting, etc, that haven’t been covered by other reviewers, even though hundreds have already ripped it to pieces.
You kind of lose respect for an actor like Al Pacino when he appears in a film like this. He’s been in the business long enough to tell the difference between a quality script and a dud, and even allowing for the numerous pitfalls that await a movie between the leading man signing on and the final reel being hidden on the high shelf behind the knick-knacks nobody bothers dusting, he must have known this one was a dog. I mean, look at the storyline — there is no way in the world that it could be disguised as a realistic, plausible scenario. Tick tock, Doc: you’ve got eighty-eight minutes to live — oh, unless you climb into the car which I’ve wired to explode.
Al Pacino plays a criminal lecturer who, despite his face displaying all the crags and crevices of a man pushing seventy and sporting an uncontrollable explosion of comedy hair which is dyed an improbable shade of black, still manages to have young female pupils going all gooey-eyed over him. Nine years ago his testimony put away a serial killer whose execution date is pending, and now he’s receiving calls telling him he’s about to die in 88 minutes (unless he gets in that car, etc).
To be fair, as mind-blowingly silly as the script for 88 Minutes is, it does offer plenty of opportunities for a director who knows what he’s doing to develop a fair degree of tension, but Jon Avnet only manages to conjure up a vague whiff of suspense every now and then before botching it by either over-playing his hand or cutting away too soon. The identity of the villain of the piece is obvious within the first twenty minutes, but everyone in 88 Minutes is so stupid — and behaves so irrationally — that you have to wait for another 68 minutes for them to catch you up.