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88 Minutes A Lazy, Disinterested Thriller

88 Minutes
Directed by Jon Avnet
Written by Gary Scott Thompson
Sony, 2008

You can see it in Al Pacino’s eyes during 88 Minutes. I think he realized somewhere that this movie wasn’t working, and a lifeless, paycheck performance came out. The man who emerged as one of our top actors in the seventies and had a bit of a resurrection in the nineties, probably wondered what the hell he was doing here. It’s easy to think that maybe he didn’t care that he was here, that Pacino is just going to do what the hell he wants after a career that speaks for itself. That might be true, but in this movie it looks like it might bother him a little.

In 88 Minutes, Pacino plays Dr. Jack Gramm, a forensic psychologist who looks to put away serial killers in court. The one in question here is Jon Forster (Neal McDonough), who is accused of stringing up women in a strange position and slicing them up. Nine years later, Forster is about to get the death sentence and killings down to the exact detail start happening, with evidence implicating Gramm. The new developments give him a stay of execution.

Meanwhile, someone is calling Gramm and telling him he has 88 minutes to live. Gramm starts suspecting a bevy of his students: his assistant Kim Cummings (Alicia Witt), truth-obsessed Mike (The O.C.’s Benjamin McKenzie), and the highly intelligent Lauren (Leelee Sobieski). The movie throws in this completely worthless red herring that we know is a red herring right from the beginning by introducing us to Kim’s stalker ex-boyfriend Guy LaForge (Stephen Moyer), who just happened to be in the same prison as Forster, and thus a nonsense conspiracy theory starts forming in Gramm’s head for awhile.

Meanwhile, special agent Frank Parks (William Forsythe) is making sure that Gramm isn’t a bad guy, probably one of the dumbest suspicions law enforcement ever had to burden themselves with.

The movie “races” towards a finale that I think is one of the most ridiculous in film history. The setup, the whole “how I did it” speech….ugh, seriously, they made this film? Honestly, anyone could be performing these murders, so when I found out who was behind all of it, I just shrugged. In fact, if you pay attention to movies, you’ll probably figure out who it is pretty early, not that it should give you much satisfaction.

And you know when you throw in a character like Shelly Barnes (Amy Brenneman), who has really no function other than to come out of nowhere with some surprise (left field) revelation, the movie creaks from mis-assembly. Yeah, don’t go see it.

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