Al Pacino is one of those few actors whose career is so decorated and quality that you literally would see the biggest piece of crap in the world just to see what he would do in it. Over the years I've watched boring (Simone), long and preachy (Angels in America), and just bad (Oceans Thirteen, Two For the Money) movies primarily because he's the Godfather, Lt. Frank Slade, Serpico, and Scarface to me and he always will be. He embodies greatness and respectability, even in crap, and so I keep going back. 88 Minutes is not crap though, it's less than crap. It's amateur night at the script-o-rama.
Pacino plays Dr. Jack Gramm, a college professor who also works with the FBI as a forensic psychiatrist. When he receives a phone call telling him he only has 88 minutes to live, he must use his powers of analysis to save his own life. One possible suspect is Jon Forster (Neal McDonough), a serial killer who feels Jack manipulated the jury into sending him to death row. In addition, he also includes a woman he had a one-night stand with and a disgruntled student he slighted into his investigation.
The script by Garry Scott Thompson is embarrassingly, abysmally awful. It's so startlingly, unconscionably bad that after the first couple scenes, I was fascinated with the depths it was willing to sink too. Start with the tasteless opening scene. A woman is hung by her legs while a man cuts and rapes her. It's an appalling and uncomfortable thing to watch and above all it's not even necessary to show it. Moving on, the Pacino character meets with the D.A investigating the Jon Forster case in the next scene. It should be intense but the introduction of milk and cookies kills the momentum almost immediately.
The movie is a mess with background characters, all of which are underdeveloped and made to look like suspects. I understand the concept of adding red-herrings but when everyone from Jack's students to the campus security guard seem to be hiding something, it just gets absurd. And why does the killer try to kill Jack by blowing up his car and shooting at him before the 88 minutes are up? And why does Jack, a Forensic Psychologist, seem so skilled in handling a gun and acting like a cop? And what exactly is the killer trying to do here, frame Jack for murder by planting evidence or actually kill him? And why does Jack's teaching assistant (Alicia Witt) feel the need to bring up wanting a relationship with him right in the middle of them running for their lives? And why do we constantly need to be reminded of the death of Jack's sister by constantly flashing back to a little girl running on a beach. And of all the names you could have picked, why on Earth would you name a character Guy LaForge. This screenplay is just inconsistent and nothing is credible, even the initial threat is laughable in its execution And if you think you've already reached your ridiculous quota, just wait for the ending. It's an out-of-the-park homerun as far as retarded goes.
I was going to review the acting but since this is running longer than I expected, I just want to say that Pacino sleeps through the role and gets his paycheck and Leelee Sobieski is one of the cheesiest and phoniest people I've ever seen act. She should be acting in "Ogre 2" on the sci-fi channel, not anywhere near Al Pacino. "88 Minutes" is a movie of stunning badness. I found it hard to even keep track of all the ridiculous things that happen in it. It's still early but I would be surprised if I saw a worse movie this year.