88 Minutes (Columbia Tri-Star, 2007) D: Jon Avnet, w/ Al Pacino, Alicia Witt. Rating: NN; DVD package: NN
Such a foolish plot from such a good premise. A forensic psychiatrist gets an anonymous phone call promising death in 88 minutes. Not content with this, our anonymous villain launches a tricky plot to frame the hero for murder, a scheme so complex that it requires the heavy to be in two places at once. Somehow, nobody notices.
Such an ill-conceived character. Gramm is an academic. He teaches, testifies in court, stuff like that. But once the threat kicks in, danger is his middle name. No stranger to guns and bombs, he runs out to investigate, which he mainly does by barking at people (very sophisticated interrogation technique). Later, he talks his cop buddy out of busting him just because he's, well, just because he's him. It's about as plausible as Relic Hunter.
Such a poor choice for the role. Though Al Pacino plays Gramm with conviction, he gives him so much self-righteous certainty that we get involved with the question - raised but never dealt with - of his having framed the serial killer. At the same time, he gives us so much of the googly eyes and open mouth that he looks like a sitcom character, maybe Al Bundy in the big-screen remake of Married With Children. Either way, he has too much depth for the ludicrous role.
Such a thrill-free thriller. The gruesome murders are safe as Sesame Street, the action is staged like TV, and the suspense boils down to a few slightly distorted shots of people gazing at Gramm.
Pacino and director Jon Avnet think the movie has something to do with the suffering of victims, and paranoia as a way of life. They are deluded. Nevertheless, they both have some thoughtful things to say in the extras, though Avnet wastes time describing what's there before our eyes.
If you're interested in Pacino or acting, pick up his two-hour episode of Inside The Actors Studio. It's a better use of your time.
EXTRAS Director commentary, director and Pacino interviews, alternate ending. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.