Convicted serial killer Jon Forster is just hours away from having a lethal dose of chemicals pushed into his veins and he’s not at all happy at it. He blames forensic psychiatrist Jack Gramm (Pacino) for his conviction and has no shortage of supporters who are willing to pick up his banner and call for a stay of execution, but he needs the courts to step in and stop the process.
Meanwhile Gramm, who’s also a college professor with a class made up of good-looking 20-something women inexplicably hot for his body, is about to find out what it feels like to have an expiration date tacked onto his life. As Forster grants TV interviews and fights for his life, Gramm receives the first in a series of phone calls and menacing messages proclaiming he only has 88 minutes to live (boy how I wish the killer only allowed him 8 minutes or even 18 rather than 88). Immediately aware Jon Forster is behind the threat, Gramm has to figure out who from out of a dozen or so suspects, including his personal assistant, his students, and lovers, could possibly be in cahoots with a serial killer. As his time ticks down, a copycat killer ups the body count while setting up Gramm to take the fall.
Believe me when I say that short synopsis, dull as it is, is infinitely more entertaining than the film itself.
Even Pacino can’t do anything with the inane dialogue or ridiculously contrived plot. He screams and fumes and stares his way through the film, surrounded by a pack of women who are no help whatsoever. Alicia Witt plays one of Pacino’s favorite students and even when her life is threatened, it appears she’s barely suppressing a smile. It’s distracting and her reactions are completely out of place. Leelee Sobieski doesn’t fare any better as a medical student with a secret. Sobieski’s is a one-note performance that can’t be entirely blamed on the script. Only Deborah Kara Unger and Amy Brenneman come out of the film with their reputations unscathed.
Jon Avnet’s use of flashbacks to show Pacino’s character connecting the dots is overkill, unnecessary, and condescending. We don’t need the replays of what the director believes are crucial clues. The flashbacks and a few slo mo scenes only serve to annoy the audience and drag out the film which, at 100+ minutes, is already 88 minutes too long.
88 Minutes was directed by Jon Avnet and is rated R for disturbing violent content, brief nudity and language.
Theatrical Release Date: April 18, 2008