Man, this movie is depressing.
Depressingly bad, that is.
I really feel terrible for Al Pacino. He’s had a fairly illustrious, remarkable cinematic career. He’s made some knockout films; he’s made some bad ones, yes, but when you think of Al Pacino, you think of The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico. Someone as storied as Al Pacino deserves two things; one, to age in his career gracefully and to have an agent who makes him refuse movies such as these. At this point, Pacino is seven-eighths of the way to being a cheap punchline to an “old and senile” styled joke. At this stage of the game, Al doesn’t have many more movies left in him, I don’t think, and to end it on such a painful looking, steep decline makes me awfully down.
88 Minutes is the story of Jack Gramm, an internationally renowned forensic investigator and the kind of guy who’s best known by the American public for testifying in lurid murder trials. Nine years prior to the start of the movie, Gramm is the only solid expert in a serial murder case. His testimony and opinions help convict a man, John Forrester, of gruesomely murdering a young girl and torturing her twin sister. Gramm’s testimony is the linchpin in a case that otherwise rests on shaky circumstantial evidence. Understandably, Forrester is pissed about this and leaves Gramm with some final words of warning: “Tick tock, tick tock.”
Nine years later, murders begin happening again in the same style and fashion as the earlier slayings and Jack Gramm receives a phone call informing him that he has 88 minutes to live. From there, he chases all over town, attempting to find out who is behind the murders, the set-up that Gramm is a copycat killer and attempting to save those around him.
Imagine if you will, two very different magicians.
Yes, I said magicians – follow me here, I promise.
One is very capable. He’s not David Copperfield or Harry Houdini by any stretch, but he’s talented and entertaining and at the end of his act, he shows you how he tricked you all along.
Maybe he’s Penn & Teller. Either way, you still walk out with an enormous sense of gratification even though you know you’ve been duped and you know exactly how you’ve been duped.
Now, take a young, amateurish magician. Maybe you’re watching him at the local high school talent show. Each trick is botched and bungled; it’s easy to see the sleight of hand and not-so-deft maneuvers that a more experienced, smarter magician could pull off.
The good magician is probably a film more like The Usual Suspects. Not perfect, but even though you know the real identity of Keyser Soze, you still feel rewarded. The craptastic magician is 88 Minutes.
For any viewer who actually bothers to pay attention, the ending to 88 Minutes is apparent. In fact, I had it figured out in the first twenty minutes. If you’re devoting a tiny section of brain matter to the plot, the rest of 88 Minutes is a dull slog that I’d liken to making it through the Iditarod. It’s cold, it’s numbing, it’s extraordinarily boring and you feel like you should get a medal for making it all the way through. Pacino looks bizarre and ridiculous; his hair is teased up four inches off his head to give him added height throughout the film and the person that decided to throw him in a Mystic Tan booth ought to be marooned on a desert island. He looks like a cheap imitation of himself.
The supporting cast is really no better. Alicia Witt, who you don’t see much of these days, plays a student/potential love interest of Pacino’s. If I had never seen one episode of Cybill, I would say that she deserves never to work again. It’s that bad. She looks like she reads everything off cue cards and she acts like a kid in a fourth grade play.
Neal McDonough plays the locked up serial killer and I’m so depressed about that. McDonough, between this and I Know Who Killed Me, you are rapidly working your way through the goodwill credit you earned for Band of Brothers. He is just plain awful as well. Leelee Sobieski pops up here too, and for such a smart person, she picks really shitty movie parts. I’d say either she needs a better agent or she needs to spend more than five minutes flicking through a script. She sucks. I enjoyed her hobbling around with knee cancer in the uber-banal Here on Earth far more than this crap. I guess that’s saying something, because I never thought I’d give props to her portrayal of a knee cancer victim.
More than anything, 88 Minutes is really weak. The story’s pretty half-assed and it doesn’t help that the film is very stock-whodunit looking (lots of blue/green tones to the flick). It’s bad in a way that makes me really depressed for everyone involved except, shockingly enough, for Jon Avnet, the director, primarily because anyone who brought you this, Inspector Gadget and Righteous Kill is someone who should be forbidden from stepping foot on a movie set EVER AGAIN.
Overall, it’s not the worst I’ve seen. It’s definitely a damn sight worse than Untraceable, believe it or not, mainly because that had some sort of a point and Colin Hanks and Diane Lane at least looked like real actors in that one. It’s too slow with the tricks and too lazy with the sleight of hand to keep you guessing until the end – and if you can’t even manage that, how can you manage much else? …Avnet, that was directed at you.