88 Minutes kicks off with director John Avnet living out his Asian torture porn fantasies, but before he can bring out a tentacle, the film settles down into a standard, Al Pacino find the killer thriller. The man has almost become his own, lame genre. Pacino plays forensic psychologist Dr. Jack Gramm, a man who lives his life inexplicably surrounded by scads of beautiful women. That turns out to be rather convenient for his stalker, an unknown individual with a grudge against Gramm whose testimony once put away a serial killer. It’s convenient because we love watching pretty girls cast as the victim, and Avnet goes out of his way to make sure there’s no shortage of young blondes and brunettes available in his film to serve as stalker fodder.
It starts when Gramm gets a mysterious phone call, with an obligatory ominous voice telling him he has 88 minutes to live. Gramm immediately starts to panic, wandering around in a dizzying daze for a few minutes until he manages to pull it together and morph into what can only be described as Super Psychologist. Apparently a good medical degree also means you’re Batman, because Gramm starts running around the city shouting orders to people as if he’s a cop. At one point he even resorts to pulling people over, flashing his psychologist badge and proclaiming authoritatively “It’s ok, I’m a forensic psychologist!” I had no idea my shrink had that kind of authority.
The film follows Gramm and the bevy of beauties who inhabit the various portions of his life as he tries to uncover who is after him, before the killer kills him and all the uber-hotties who happen to be standing in the general vicinity. Pacino, as he usually does these days, sleepwalks through most of the movie. The script requires little of him other than that he stand around in one of his Pacino-suits and talk on the phone . That’s how 88 Minutes spends most of its minutes, on phone calls and static, awkwardly inserted exposition conversations.
It’s a laughable mess, especially in the first two-thirds of the film when Pacino’s character alternates between interminable stretches of screen time making phone calls and brief moments where he starts to behave as if he’s wearing a codpiece and a cape. Later, as the mystery starts to move towards its ultimately idiotic big reveal, 88 Minutes starts to find a rhythm, but by then if you have any sense you’ll have already left the theater. It’s a clumsy, clunker of a movie; one barely even worth reviewing let alone seeing.
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