Monday, April 21, 2008

88 Minutes

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Pacino Stars as Shrink on Run from Sadistic Serial Killer

About ten years ago, Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) was the key prosecution expert witness whose testimony helped send rapist/serial killer Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) to Death Row. As the notorious “Seattle Slayer” was being led out of the courtroom, he looked the FBI forensic psychiatrist responsible for his conviction straight in the eye and whispered, “Tick-tock, Doc,” a veiled threat that it was just a matter of time before he would exact his revenge.
Fast forward to the present and we find Forster behind bars and all out of appeals. His impending execution is likely to provide a measure of closure to Janie Cates (Tammy Hui), the twin sister of one of his victims (Vicky Huang), plus some comfort to Gramm, now teaching med school, boozing it up and chasing anything in a skirt.
But then, on the eve of Forster’s scheduled execution by lethal injection, the tweedy, tipsy professor finds himself suddenly shaken after receiving a chilling call on his cell phone repeating the familiar “Tick-tock, Doc” refrain. In addition, the electronically-altered voice informs Gramm that he only has 88 minutes to live.
Thereupon, the sinister stalker immediately embarks on a frenetic crime spree, slicing and dicing folks close to the womanizing Dr. Jack in order to implicate him in a series of copycat murders. The enterprising sicko proceeds to wreak additional havoc across the city, eluding a conspicuously-absent police force while blowing up cars, setting fires and running over pedestrians with a motorcycle. Oh, and he also keeps Gramm on speed dial to be able to gloat periodically.
Patently preposterous at every turn, 88 Minutes is more action-packed than the average Bugs Bunny-Road Runner hour, and features cartoon physics which is about as credible. Al Pacino, with the help of a bouncy, blowing, world-class bouffant hairdo, still has the charisma to turn a turkey into a flick that’s almost watchable, if only for the laughs.
Regrettably, a splendid supporting cast topped by Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman. William Forsythe and Alicia Witt finds itself frequently abandoned by a silly script laced with implausible dialogue, lots of illogical plot developments and more smelly red herrings than the Fulton Fish market. I mean, really, how can virtually every character be a prime suspect, including the potential victim himself?
A comical crime thriller where you’re likely to find yourself more amused by the unintentionally funny goings-on than trying to solve the underlying whodunit.

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, disturbing violence and brief nudity.
Running time: 108 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures

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