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Non-Review Review: 88 Minutes

Remember when Al Pacino was great? Yeah, it was a while ago.

Wow, they're really trying to keep Pacino out of that taxi, aren't they? Not that I'd blame him for trying to get away from this film...

88 Minutes is about a decade too late. It would have blended in nearly perfectly with the rake of “inside the mind of a serial killer” pictures that we got in the post after Se7en – you know the ones that would cast Morgan Freeman if they could afford it? Here, Al Pacino plays a forensic psychologist who put away a particularly nasty serial killer. As the killer’s execution draws near, our intrepid expert receives a phone call informing him that he only has 88 minutes to live.

If it sounds like cliché, it really is. Everything from there on out is taken from the “generic cop racing against time” film, down to seemingly random phone calls counting down, red herrings left-right-and-centre and a final mastermind who seems only to have been picked because they were the least likely suspect (not that movie could be concerned with giving the audience an actual basis on which to solve the case).

Along the way, there’s improbable twist after improbable twist. When the movie is recounted to a federal agent, played by the ever grim William Forsythe, his response is, “Do you have any idea how absurd that sounds?” He’s pretty much speaking for the audience there. The plot twists which occur are fairly unbelievable, even by the standards of a subgenre which often relies a near-omniscient antagonist in order to function.

Al Pacino is a great actor, but – let’s face it – he’s made some poor choices in the past decade. In fairness, there’s none of his infamous scenery-chewing going on here… or, at least, not much. There’s just nothing here which requires his talents or skills. His character is a fairly bland pastiche of every middle-aged dogged investigator ever, a cheap knock-off of more complex iterations of the same character he has explored several times before.

The direction isn’t half-bad for most of the runtime. it’s not inspired, but it gets by. However, the movie is constantly jumping back to desaturated slow-motion flashbacks like something from the eighties, soundtracked somewhat uncomfortably to the music of 50 Cent. The problem is that amid the gunshots and exploding cars, there’s really no adrenaline flowing – there’s no sense of impending risk or danger, no sense that the clock is ticking down, except for those irritating phone calls repeating “tick tock doc”.

This is a relatively short review because, well, there’s relatively little to be said. If you are looking for cheap catch-the-killer thrills, there are any number of superior films on the market. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can offer is that it isn’t quite as soul-destroyingly terrible as Righteous Kill.

Small comforts, eh?

2 Responses

  1. Hated this piece of crap! I had no idea how much money they were giving Pacino, but it had to be a whole bunch for him to take this crap role.

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