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88 Minutes

The Longest 88 Minutes You’ll Ever Experience

In 88 Minutes, Al Pacino plays egomaniacal university professor and sometimes FBI forensic psychiatrist, Jack Gramm. A man Gramm helped put on death row, Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) accuses Jack of manipulating the jury in his case. As his execution nears, bodies start to pile up. The modus operandi used to snuff out these folks (one of whom is a woman Gramm had a fling with) bears a striking resemblance to the method Forster used. Did Gramm help nail the wrong guy? Is there a copycat killer? Is Gramm actually involved in some of these murders?

Gramm finds himself in a most compromising position which only gets worse as he starts getting phone calls telling him he’s only got a few minutes to live (88 to be precise). The voice on the other end is garbled a la Jigsaw from the Saw films. One initially suspects Forster is behind the calls, but it turns out Gramm’s got a few enemies including Forster, a disgruntled student, and an ex-girlfriend. Thus begins a frantic search to track down Gramm’s would be killer.

What seems like an interesting premise quickly spirals out of control into a completely implausible, over the top thriller that will likely have you laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Director Jon Avnet fails to construct even a handful of believable moments (let alone 88) and insults the audience on a multitude of occasions with his conceits. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if there were other aspects of the film that were a bit more redeemable, like the acting for instance.

Unfortunately, 88 Minutes strikes out in this department as well. Al Pacino as Jack Gramm is not a particularly likable guy to begin with and Pacino’s rendition of Gramm is about as bloated and overwrought as anything Pacino has ever done. As the tension in the film rises, Gramm doesn’t really seem to be feeling any kind of real fear anxiety, he just seems to raise his voice a bit more than usual.

Neal McDonough does his best to channel Hannibal Lecter in his turn as the soon to be executed serial killer, Jon Forster. But similar to Pacino’s performance, McDonough’s Forster is a bit half baked. Leering and vaguely nefarious, Forster feels like a Lifetime movie of the week caricature of a serial killer.

Just so you can plan accordingly, 88 Minutes is NOT in fact 88 minutes in duration. Unfortunately, the film feels eons longer than 88 minutes. You will likely wish it was much shorter than 88 minutes. We’ve got our first frontrunner for the Razzie award in 2008 with 88 Minutes.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars