E for effort

Regardless of the flak that Jon Avent’s “88 Minutes” took from the media, Al Pacino and William Forsythe delivered a less than plausible thriller that seemed to disappoint more than it proved worthiness.

From the opening scenes of tortured women strung upside down, and a gathering at a night club, it sets the tone for a plot which one would comprehend as intricate, but it seems to come together to a well-scripted conclusion.

Pacino’s character depicts forensic psychiatrist and college professor, Jack Gramm, whose testimony landed suspected serial murderer Jon Forster (The Seattle Slayer), played by Neil McDonough, on death row. On the eve of Forster’s execution, an identical murder was committed, bringing into question the possibility of a copycat killer, and doubt of Forster’s guilt with a potential stay of execution.

The victim of the murder was a student of Gramm’s, which due to his prior relationship with the student, brings him into question by the FBI. Before Gramm can piece together the details, he begins receiving mysterious phone calls threatening he has 88 minutes to live.

Now, with time running against him, he has to figure out the origin of the phone calls and the new murders that are being committed. An FBI agent, Frank Parks (Forsythe), is trying to buy time and help Gramm unfold what he can before it’s too late. Is Forster masterminding this from prison? Or is it someone who is closer than he thinks?

Many people saw this as Al Pacino’s worst role, which opened the gates to very critical reviews of the movie. Despite the displacement of the actor, Pacino added distinct character and personality to a movie that seemed to be a cookie-cutter thriller of today. It’s not about the actor’s previous roles, but the caliber of the character that was portrayed, and with that he greatly succeeded.

One would think that his role should have been played by a younger actor, in the fields of one of the fine personnel of an MTV film, not a 66-year-old man who is seemingly trying to live the life of a 30-year-old. Some claimed the plot was left open or had loopholes or it happened too quickly, but every end was tied together.

The plot did seem to unfold rather sporadically, due to new events constantly occurring and being left with an “I’ll call you back”, but they all seemed necessary to make the plot perfect. The 19 producers of the movie seemed to make sure that everything was in check, from the luxury condo that Jack Gramm resided in, to the designer clothes and sports cars he possessed. One would think this was overkill, but the attempt at perfection adds a clever point to the movie which undoubtedly draws you in for the climax.

Although there were obvious mishaps and mindless aspects of this movie, “88 Minutes” still shone with a few stars of cinematic excellence; Pacino’s acting, attempted perfection of plot, and production value to name a few. Maybe it isn’t the best of the year, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. It deserves a golf clap, at least.