Review for “88 Minutes.”

This movie was originally due out in the Summer of 2007. It is now due out the end of April 2008 in the States, and looking at a July release over here. The following should give you a good idea of where this movie’s head is at. This was the movie’s original poster:

88minutes.jpg

Ooh. Moody. Black and white and grey. “Time is running out.” Nice. Unfortunately, people had no idea what it was about. And the initial test screenings were dire. So they re-edited, and re-promoted:

88minutes2.jpg

Quite different, non? Gone is the moodiness, in comes Pacino’s head, with a certain Pacino-esque look of disgruntlement. Plus, a new tagline: “He has 88 Minutes to solve a murder. His own.” Intriguing. Sounds like its about time travel or something. Which it most definitely isn’t. And, again, the new edit was met with harsh criticism. So, it was back to the editing suite and publicity drawing board for one last bash at it:

88minutes3.jpg

Again, quite different. Gone completely is the moodiness. Pacino has a full frame. It now looks most definitely like an action film (which it most definitely is not). No sign of a tagline. And with the explosion in the background, it looks like Pacino is looking for a bomb thats going to go off in, oh, about 90 minutes, give or take. But, again, this is not the case.

Pacino is college professor Jack Gramm who gave evidence against a serial killer which put him on death row. On the eve of his execution, Pacino recieves a phone call telling him he has 88 minutes to live. And some of his students begin to die in the manner that only Pacino, the inmate and the police know about, which seems to point that the wrong man is awaiting eletrocution. Not original by any means, by interesting enough to spend 88 minutes with, right? Wrong.

There is a certain point where an audience will willingly allow their suspension of disbelief to bend, but it doesn’t take much after that point for it to snap, and a film can flip from an edgy (if implausible) thriller, into something that is laughed at. The point at which this happens in 88 Minutes is about 7 minutes in, when we get introduced to our SEVENTH possible bad guy/red herring. We literally drown in them. And the make-shift “big name” supporting cast is designed specifically with that in mind; Alicia Witt, LeeLee Sobieski, Deborah Kara Unger, Amy Brenneman, William Forsythe to name but only the most recognisable, but you can probably spot a few more yourself.

The film’s tone veers wildly from Scream-alike self-aware psychological thriller, but then, when cars start exploding for no real appearant reason, its swings into Speed-alike against-the-clock action thriller, with some added psychological bits thrown in for good measure. And come the end of the film, you probably won’t have guessed who the villian is. But don’t worry, its not down to your own lack of intelligence, its due to director Jon Avnet pointing the finger of villiany at every single character that you won’t be able to differenciate or care about their motives.

But Pacino, again, is a legend, doing the best he can with the awful, awful character and dialogue he’s cursed with (didn’t anyone notice that writer Gary Scott Thompson has durge like Hollow Man 2, Timecop 2, K-9:P-I and 2 Fast 2 Furious on his “resume”?). And it actually is 88 minutes from the time Pacino is given the threat to the end of the film. But when you’re scraping the barrels for compliments like that, you know what you’ve just seen is not good.

Two out of Ten.

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