88 Minutes (2008)
Few thrillers are as sloppily directed, hysterically acted or badly written as 88 Minutes, which is easily one of Al Pacino's very worst films. It belongs in the same company as Revolution, Bobby Deerfield, Cruising, and Author! Author!, if that tells you anything.
The plot revolves around Pacino who plays a forensic psychiatrist whose testimony helped put away a vicious serial killer, the always creepy Neal McDonough. McDonough is set to be executed that very day but two strange things happen. First is the discovery of a new murder victim who is killed by the exact same MO as McDonough, thereby putting his real guilt into question. Secondly, Pacino gets a menacing, anonymous phone call telling him has 88 minutes to live.
This setup sounds pretty intriguing, does it not? Well, from this point on, the film completely disintegrates into a miasma of wretched pacing, hammy acting, ludicrous plotting and one really bad hairdo. So, the movie bascially follows Pacino as he runs around the city trying to solve the mystery and prevent his own death. Also on hand are a bevy of women (Alicia Witt, Amy Brenneman, Deborah Kara Unger and Leelee Sobieski) who are all somewhat involved in the case, and they are all performed terribly, but since they are acting against a thoroughly confused and overwrought Pacino, maybe they were just trying to keep pace.
As you have guessed, 88 Minutes is supposed to unfold in real time; when Pacino gets the phone call, we as the audience are now being made very aware of the time ticking away in the film, so you'd think that the action on screen would produce some sense of urgency. But, no. Even though Pacino runs around the city, pinballing between clues and suspects, he hardly breaks a sweat. We are supposed to believe that Pacino is able to traverse the entire city of Seattle several times, take time to find and talk (at length) to various witnesses and suspects and still take time to stop and engage in idle banter with moony-eyed assistant Witt and take what seem to be around a hundred cell phone calls all within the span of 88 minutes. Not a chance. Not even close.
In fact, the vast bulk of this movie is devoted to Pacino making or receiving cell phone calls while running through the streets. It would be a fun (but potentially lethal) drinking game to take a drink everytime a cell phone rings; everyone will be thoroughly snockered about a half-hour into it. Another drinking game could be devoted to every time Pacino's hair changes style: most of the time he is sporting a laughable, poofy, slightly discolored hairdo reminiscent of something you'd see on a cut-rate Baptist preacher (other times it doesn't look that bad, so either the wind and rain of Seattle is just playing havoc on the 'do, or it's just a really bad continuity error).
So do we ever find out what is going on? We do, but none of it makes a lick of sense, and if you do make it to the end, you'll realize that paying attention will not actually be rewarded. So we have a mystery without a real mystery, a thriller without thrills, a fist full of terrible performances (everyone sucks, with the sole possible exception of Brenneman whose whole role is comprised of walking around an office talking to Pacino on the phone and who we are pointlessly told is a lesbian), and a gimmick that doesn't work.
It doesn't take 88 minutes for Pacino to die in 88 Minutes; he's essentially 'dead' by the end of the first reel.