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Senior Shackster
791 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
If you have absolutely nothing better do or you've already seen everything new
and want to kill 88 minutes (actually 108 minutes) then you might want to rent
"88 Minutes" on DVD. It's a watchable thriller with a somewhat disappointing
climax but satisfying ending are rare these days...

Al Pacino with his gravely voice and looking older than his 68 years plays a
forensic scientic and university instructor. He's a bit more restrained than
usual and only overacts (shouts his lines) in a couple of scenes. I'm at a real
disadvantage in that I just screened two of his best roles watching
the blu ray discs of "The Godfather" and "The Godfather II". He's brilliant in
them giving subtle and nuanced performances. As I mentioned in my review
of that box set, Pacino changed considerably in the interim aging poorly and
engaging in hammy acting in many subsequent features. He voice is almost unrecognizable from his early pictures.

I guess any narrative that takes place in real time is going to have some
built in suspense. Movies like "High Noon" and "Rope" come to mind. The
premise of "88 Minutes" is that a serial killer is about to be executed. He
claims he's innocent (as they all do) and blames Pacino's testimony at his
trial as key person who got him convicted. Suddenly people surrounding
Pacino including fellow students and his girlfriend are killed using the same
MO as the convicted killer. Was he innocent or is it a copycat killer? Simultaneously
Pacino is receiving cell phone calls with a distored voice telling him he only
has 88 minutes to live. So he tries to solve the mystery before it's too late.

There is a fair amount of action and suspense as he tries to figure out what's
really going on. The problem is when you find out who's doing it (and I won't
reveal it here), you'll probably say "Huh?" and have to go back to the beginning
to re-screen the early scenes. They really didn't set up the potential suspects
too well. But, it's an okay film within the 'serial killer on the loose' genre.

There are some rather implausible subplots however. Not only is the real
killer trying to target Pacino but leaves false evidence linking him to the
new murders. When Pacino picks up an escort service girl, he has
sex with her and leaves body fluids inside which are removed by the
villain and placed at another crime scene. This is preposterous. I don't
think it's that easy for an amateur to take fluid samples from a dead woman.
I also seriously doubt a forensic scientist would take the chance of having
unprotected sex with a stranger and run the risk of an unwanted pregnancy or
STD. That's reckless and he's supposed to be a control freak in the story.

The technical specs are acceptable. The 5.1 sound is pretty good although
this isn't a big budget film (despite the outrageous fee paid to Pacino). It's
primarily a no name cast with functional locations. Most of it takes place at
the university and his apartment. For no reason at all, the film is a widescreen
movie with a 2.35 x 1 ratio. The wide ratio isn't used dramatically and since
the sets aren't that interesting, the frame looks empty most of the time.

So that's a quickie review for anyone that needs some distraction when
there's nothing else to screen.

In summary picture quality B, sound design B, cinematography B, story and screenplay
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