This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
The second Al Pacino film in as many weeks, and the second disappointing Al Pacino film in as many weeks. Who’d have thunk it, etc. Perhaps not entirely uncoincidentally, the second Jon Avnet film in as many weeks, second disappointing Jon Avnet film, thunk, etc.
Doc Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) is a criminal psychologist, celebrating on the occasion of one the guys he was instrumental in convicting, Jon Forster (Neal McDonough), going to do the final sit down dance on the electric chair. To ruin the fun, a series of killings with exactly the same MO as Forster’s break out on that very day, casting doubt over the conviction.
As if that’s not enough, evidence starts appearing pointing to Gramm as the perp of these brutal killings. As if that’s not enough, Gramm also receives a death threat telling him that he has 88 minutes to live, the central gimmick here being that this 88 minutes unfolds in more-or-less real time.
The problem with 88 minutes, and seeing as every critic on the planet has panned it by this point there’s perhaps little value dwelling on it apart from to point out one of the rare cases where they’re entirely correct, lies largely with those “as if that’s not enough” statements in the last paragraph, and yes, I am pretentious enough to quote my own writing, and yes, this sentence is going on entirely too long.
As thrillers go, which this is at least nominally, it’s normally at least slightly important to have a patina of reality. 88 Minutes goes so far over the top it has practically marched to Berlin. A never-ending parade of increasingly silly stakes increases sees attempted hits, bomb threats, car bombs and shootings to the point where it’d be pretty much in keeping with the spirit of things if Gramm was strapped to a nuclear bomb and launched.
It seems very much like a rejected CSI script with ADHD. It simply doesn’t know when to stop, and the reveal of who’s behind all this nonsense lacks anything approaching a believable motivation. We perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that writer Gary Scott Thompson, whose best script so far is The Fast and the Furious, hasn’t exactly delivered the goods here.
Perhaps I was wrong and this isn’t an Al Pacino film. After all, the bored, oddly detached given the shitestorm surrounding him turn doesn’t have any of the quality that the Pachino brand could normally be relied on to bring. As for the supporting cast, most of whom are young, nubile and seeming always on the verge of ravishing Doc Gramm for no readily explicable reason, they’re pretty universally dismal, and special mention must go to the not particularly young or nubile Neal McDonough’s scenery-chewing evil-doer which is unintentionally hilarious rather frequently.
Some have pinned the problems with this film on Doc Gramm’s snippy nature, although I’m not sure how much water that holds. If I’d been told I’ve 88 minutes to live I suspect I’d be dispensing with pleasantries as well for the duration. Instead, I’d say the main problem with the film is that it’s completely bananas, poorly conceived and poorly executed.