88 Minutes
Look out! I think I see someone coming with this film’s script!

Theatrical Release Date: 04/18/2008
Director: Jon Avnet
Cast: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, William Forsythe, Deborah Kara Unger, Benjamin McKenzie, Neal McDonough

Here’s what you need to know about the new Al Pacino flick, “88 Minutes”. The film’s runtime is actually 108 minutes, it takes 27 minutes for Pacino to start yelling (though not quite 81 more for him to stop) and this film is terrible. Got all that?

If I were to compare this to other films, I’d say this is a cross between “Clue” and “Phone Booth” – and I don’t mean any of that as a compliment no matter how much I love “Clue” (nor is there anything good to say about “Phone Booth” other than at least I’m not watching it right now). From the moment the film begins, there’s a very tangible TNT movie of the week quality to it all. Even though it begins with a girl being tortured, it’s the audience that’s about to suffer.

The basic premise is that a hotshot forensic psychologist (Pacino) is given 88 minutes to live by an unknown caller. Oooooh …. spooky! Instead of tapping on the numerous resources available to him like help from the FBI, he decides to have his assistant run background checks on everyone he knows and tries to solve the caper himself. For a supposed smart person, he’s pretty dumb.

Along the way, every character he comes across will be presented as having some motive or opportunity to be the one killing women across Seattle and threatening to end Pacino’s life along the way. There are so many red herrings thrown out, I thought I was at some weird Scandinavian baseball game with the worst giveaway night ever. Nothing in the film is solid enough to present any real challenge to your brain, it’s all done so haphazardly that it doesn’t matter who’s out to kill our good friend, Al … it just doesn’t matter.

I blame a good deal of the pain I suffered watching this film on screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson whose “credits” include numerous episodes of the tv show “Las Vegas” and story credits for such fine features as “The Fast and the Furious”, “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Hollow Man”. Apparently the adage about it not being what you know, but who you know is quite true.

And I doubt that director Jon Avnet did much to soften the mental torture the script brought to bare. His visualizations of Pacino’s past are like crappy Hallmark commercials and the ridiculous manner in which Pacino gallivants around town trying to narrow down the suspect list is worse than a bad video game.

The acting wasn’t necessarily all that good either. I actually think Pacino was asleep during some of his scenes, even when he has dialogue. Add that the majority of the cast are beautiful (much younger) women who all have some strange quasi to full-blown attraction to Pacino and trying to rationalize why they all think his brooding, emotionally detached, wealthy lifestyle is attractive … wait, never mind … I get why that might work. But it still played terrible on-screen and I doubt many of these generally good actresses would get hired if they used any of their scenes as an audition piece.

I don’t even want to bother wasting any more of my time ranting about the absurdity that is this film and will just get on to giving “88 Minutes” a 1 out of 5. If it wasn’t so laughably awful, I might chalk this throbbing sensation in my head entirely to the film. Sadly, I’m sure there’s a physiological reason as well so I won’t blame it all on Pacino’s latest paycheck.

I think the sort of person who would find this film clever and worth their money probably thinks that the government staged the moon landings. If you fit that category, by all means go out and see this film. For the rest of you, feel free to skip this one … in theaters, on DVD, or even free on cable.