88 Minutes (2008)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller
Sony || R - 107 minutes - $28.96 || September 16, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-09-18


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jon Avnet
Writer(s): Gary Scott Thompson (written by)
Cast: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, Deborah Kara Unger, Benjamin McKenzie, Neal McDonough


Theatrical Release Date: April 18, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Alternate Ending
  • Director's POV
  • The Character Within


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plotline (from DVD back cover): Al Pacino stars in this riveting thriller about a forensic psychologist who receives a phone call threatening that he has only 88 minutes to live. As the clock ticks away, tension mounts, suspicions rise and blood flows. With a serial killer he helped convict awaiting execution and a copycat killer on the loose, Jack Gramm has 88 minutes to solve the biggest murder of his career: his own.

88 Minutes isn’t some spin off of “24” but instead a mundane suspense thriller with an inane plot that, when the man behind the curtain is revealed, is utterly ridiculous. Much like his other forgettable films in his career, Al Pacino is thankfully subdued and doesn’t go over the top (see: Devil’s Advocate). Although not what he used to be in his Godfather days, Pacino still has that intangible screen presence that few actors really have. But even the best actors can overcome a movie’s shortcomings, and at a certain point, Pacino does what he can before the ridiculousness takes control.

The movie was written by Gary Scott Thompson, best known for The Fast and the Furious and the TV series, “Las Vegas”. I’ve enjoyed most of Thompson’s work over the years. Sure, the Fast franchise isn’t fine art at any level, but it is one hell of a ride. Same goes for “Las Vegas”, a show that never aspired to be anything more than a glitzy primetime soap opera with all the juicy scandal and hot women one expects from a show that takes place in Sin City. All that said, his screenplay is material seemingly best suited for an episode of “Las Vegas”, 45-minutes versus 100-minutes.

My biggest issue with this film isn’t with the actual plot or the 2-dimensional characters but as Avnet tries to set up several suspects who could be behind the events, makes sense on a certain level, but given even I could guess early on, made it so much more of a letdown. It also doesn’t help that the killer doesn’t quite measure up as a substantial threat (sorry, I couldn’t buy them in the role).

Co-starring Alicia Witt (Urban Legend), Leelee Sobieski (Walk All Over Me), Amy Brenneman (Heat), Deborah Kara Unger (The Game) and Neal McDonough (I Know Who Killed Me), along with The O.C.’s Benjamin McKenzie and character actor William Forsythe, 88 Minutes features a decent enough cast especially with cutie Witt and Sobieski. It was directed by Jon Avnet who, for some odd reason, got the privilege in helming the Pacino/De De Niro crime-thriller Righteous Kill. Nothing wrong with Avnet as a director but at the same time, you’re only going to be good as the material. He fails to build up much suspension and there isn’t much visual flair or style to make it stand out with the rest of the wannabe thrillers.

Avnet tries to lay out a paranoid aspect to the story from Gramm’s perspective. Everyone he knows or even runs into is a suspect and he doesn’t know who to trust. From that angle, I think 88 Minutes makes the most inroads. It still doesn’t elevate the script from its ridiculous conclusion, but it helps flesh things out and gives the film a little depth taking it from average to above average.

88 Minutes has actually been out on the market overseas for quite a while and only recently was dumped into American theaters where it debuted with a paltry $6.9m on opening weekend and $16.9m total ($30.6m total). This isn’t as terrible of a film as I had feared, it is just another film on Pacino’s increasingly unimpressive resume as of late. The movie won’t tax your mind, but compared to some of the other thrillers that come and go (and usually end up for $5 at Wal-Mart).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Director’s Commentary – Avnet supplies an ordinary, though sometimes informative commentary where he goes through the motions of telling us what’s going on onscreen, but he does provide his insights on the story.

Alternate Ending (10:09) – The first 6-minutes is just the original ending before getting into the new stuff. As with most alternate endings, nothing really changes and in this case it is more of an extended ending with Pacino giving one last speech to wrap everything up.

Director’s Point of View (7:46) – Director Jon Avnet sits down and discusses making the movie and his approach to doing so. Honestly, the only thing I remember him talking about was getting advice from George Lucas about filmmaking, after that I couldn’t hear anything through my laughter...

The Character Within (7:48) – This is another short featurette where now Al Pacino discusses his character, the intricacies of the story and all that good stuff.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 OAR, 88 Minutes looks good on DVD. I didn’t notice any imperfections and while the Avnet’s color palette isn’t anything impressive, this looks to be a solid transfer. Black levels look decent and even in standard def, it’s fairly crisp and clean.

Sony gives us the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and French. Outside of one explosion and Edward Shearmur’s (The Skeleton Key) average score, most of the soundtrack is filled with dialog coming through the center channel with the other speakers getting used for ambient noises.



.::OVERALL::.

88 Minutes is very much your ordinary thriller propelled slightly by the presence of Al Pacino. Unfortunately the other elements like the screenplay and direction couldn’t help him out and what we’re left with is a forgettable film destined for the Wal-Mart cheap aisle. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the movie, but it has little offer and no reason to recommend anything other than as a rental.