(2008)1.5Derek ArmstrongFans of 24 know it's nearly impossible to execute a real-time concept in real time. But when 24's writers need to cut corners, they're shrewd enough to collapse the action that occurs off-screen, such as travel times between locations. When there's an obvious disconnect between real time and the action that occurs on-screen, that's when you get a movie like 88 Minutes. 88 Minutes would just be an ordinary bad thriller if it weren't for the fact that it's supposed to take exactly 88 minutes, starting about 15 minutes into the 107-minute running time, with a few minutes afterward for postmortem. Once that 88-minute clock starts ticking, so much preposterous stuff happens, with so many characters instantly up to speed on the latest developments (as if those developments were being zapped into their brains telepathically), that it's just plain ridiculous. Outside of one genuinely affecting monologue, Al Pacino is the personification of that ridiculousness, wearing a giant heap of hair that seems to extend a foot above the top of his head. His forensic psychiatrist (or whatever he's supposed to be) is beset by all sorts of potentially traitorous colleagues, and problematically, they are almost all women. (Except for the main villain, who manages to taunt Pacino's Jack Gramm from death row.) What message director Jon Avnet and screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson may be conveying about the deceitfulness of women is unclear. One of the film's most frustrating problems is that everything needs to occur in precisely the correct sequence, at precisely the correct time, for the villain's Jigsaw-like plan to take exactly 88 minutes. Yet if Gramm hadn't avoided being shot, blown up, or run over by cars numerous times, this sadistic pageantry could never have hatched correctly. 88 Minutes should never have hatched, period.
Jon Avnet directs Al Pacino in the thriller 88 Minutes. Pacino plays university professor Jack Gramm, who occasionally assists the FBI in matters of forensic psychiatry. His recent testimony against a freshly convicted criminal seems to be the reason he has gotten a scary phone call informing him he will die in 88 minutes. As with the like-minded thriller D.O.A. (both the original and the remake), the protagonist must use his skills in order to track down who has hatched this evil plot and hopefully prevent his own demise. Alicia Witt and Leelee Sobieski co-star as the professor's star students.