88 Minutes

88 Minutes

2008, R, 106 min. Directed by Jon Avnet. Starring Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski, Benjamin McKenzie, Deborah Kara Unger, William Forsythe, Neal McDonough.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 25, 2008

Attica! Attica! Everyone involved in the creation of this muddled, joyless, and deadly dull serial killer-meets-forensic psychiatrist snoozefest should be forced to spend – at the very least – 88 minutes behind Attica's bars. Personally, I'd petition for the full 106-minute running time of the offense in question. Either way, throw the book at ’em, Danno. Pacino's fall from grace to Iconic American Actor Most Likely to Appear in a Mediocre Movie reaches its nadir here, following several other ill-conceived roles in Two for the Money, Gigli, and S1m0ne – all to varying degrees crimes or misdemeanors (although we'll allow, as exculpating evidence of good faith, that Pacino's upcoming turn in Harold Becker's remake of the late Jules Dassin's masterful Rififi could very well restore the star's former luster). And, of course, Pacino's weathered features and the gravelly timbre of his snake-oil smooth voice remain seductive as ever. As for 88 Minutes, however, it imparts little more than a dull patina of prechewed, procedural formulas to the Pacino CV. Here he's Jack Gramm, a Seattle forensics professor whose testimony has sent a buggy mug by the name of Forster (McDonough, creepy enough) to the death house. As Forster's execution time approaches, Gramm gets a mysterioso cell call which imparts the news that he, too, has only 88 minutes to live. Add to that the fact that a series of copycat crimes utilizing Forster's m.o. have just come to light, and a surfeit of suspects – among them Witt as one of Gramm's students, and a raggedy-hot university dean (Unger) – and the film quickly devolves into a by-the-book skein of rhetorical questions that call into question both his character's testimony and the actor's ability to pick a decent script. For myself, Pacino's last iconic performance was as the motormouthed, leering Father of Lies in The Devil's Advocate. True enough, he devoured both scenery and co-stars whole. (You've got to wonder what Keanu Reeves tasted like. I'm betting on "wet cardboard.") But he made for a frighteningly famished foil. In 88 Minutes, he's about as hungry as a Seattle raindrop, and that's just plain hell.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Jon Avnet Films
Righteous Kill
There's nothing righteous about this tired and tiresome good cop/bad cop NYPD procedural.

Marc Savlov, Sept. 19, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes
The feisty Southern women of Fannie Flagg's novel are portrayed by a fantastic cast.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Jan. 10, 1992

More by Marc Savlov
Joe Bell
Earnest true story of a father's guilt and contrition over his gay son's death

July 23, 2021

F9: The Fast Saga
Script? We don't need no stinking script in the Toretto crew's latest

June 25, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

88 Minutes, Jon Avnet, Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski, Benjamin McKenzie, Deborah Kara Unger, William Forsythe, Neal McDonough

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle