Pros: Interesting but predictable story
Cons: Gruesome; flat characters
I seem to be a sucker for "time" stories. I've given several TV shows a try because they used a real time format. Only one was any good. And, while I knew this movie wouldn't be real time, the ticking clock premise in 88 Minutes intrigued me so much I had to see it. I got it out of my system, but it isn't a must see.
Nine years ago, Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino), a forensic psychiatrist, was the key witness in the trail and conviction of serial killer Jon Forster (Neal McDonough). Today, Jon is set to be executed for his crimes.
Jack not only has his own psychiatric firm, but he also teaches at the University of Washington in Seattle. He wakes up this morning to learn that one of his students was killed exactly the say way that Jon killed women.
Then he receives the phone call. "You have 88 minutes to live. At 11:45, you will die." At first he considers it a crank, but the more the person calls back, the more he takes it seriously. Is Jon guilty? Who murdered his student? And who is going to kill him?
Make no mistake about it, this movie is gruesome. It got its R rating mainly for the violence. While the murder scenes could have been worse, they are still pretty bad. I had to look away several times.
I was actually surprised at how slowly things started. It was absolutely necessarily to set up the story. And I'm not saying that things were bad. I just thought they'd jump in with the first phone call faster.
Once they do get things going, the story held my interest. I thought I had the villain pinpointed a couple times, but I turned out to be wrong.
Having said that, the plot was pretty predictable. Especially if you've seen the previews. I spent half the movie cringing waiting for a certain event to happen, for example. I guessed accurately at some back story as well, so when we finally officially found out, it wasn't any big deal. Frankly, I was ready to get to the end since I knew everything else anyway.
Frankly, the characters didn't help much. They are one dimensional things to be moved around by the plot as needed. Frankly, I never even connected with Jack. Yes, I was concerned at times, mainly because I was expecting something to pop out and make me jump. But I was never fully emotionally involved in the film.
I have a feeling that fault lies at the feet of the script, but the acting was never outstanding. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad either. Supporting Al Pacino are the likes of Alicia Witt and Amy Brenneman. I can't point to anyone and say, "That was a bad performance." But nobody stood out to me as praise worthy either.
I'm not sorry I saw this film, but I'm not anxious to rush out and watch it again. If you are a Pacino fan or are intrigued by the premise, you might want to wait for the DVD or better yet, catch it on TV. Otherwise, you aren't missing much by missing 88 Minutes.