88 Minutes – The Worst Movies Ever
I had the distinct honor of seeing 88 Minutes in the theater… and by distinct honor, I mean it was one of the worst movie going experiences I’ve ever had. Not since Jurassic Park 3, Suburban Commando or Armageddon have I been so close to leaving the theater before the film was over. What kept me in my seat was this one woman who was just loving the flick (it’s at 5% for critics, 50% for users at Rotten Tomatoes) – she was laughing, clapping and having a good ol’ time, and I wanted to see if either of the following two things would happen to us as the movie went on:
1. Would she come to hate it as much as I did?
2. Would I come to love it as much as she did?
Nether happened.So maybe 88 Minutes isn’t for everybody – or, if you treat films like an event worth of your feedback as they unfold in a relatively crowded movie theater, this movie might be for you.
Al Pacino plays a forensic psychiatrist (remember that – it’s important!) who’s testimony is perhaps the most damning in the conviction of the killer known as “The Seattle Slayer.” When the killer is led out of the court room, he briefly speaks to Pacino, saying only “Tick- tock, Doc.” That’s a weird thing to say, huh? Perhaps referring to all of the time he’s going to have to serve? Who knows… well, I know, because I watched the entire damned movie.
So then we cut forward 9 years into the future, when the killer is scheduled to be executed for his crimes. (9 years. Not 10, not 8, but 9 – seems like 9 was a very deliberate choice for no reason at all.) Meanwhile, someone has been committing murders in his exact style (which is unnecessarily meticulous and gross – it’s never a good idea to just throw in rape for shock value), including one of Pacino’s former students (so he’s a professor, too – not just a forensic psychiatrist) and on his way to class, he gets a call on his cell from someone with a digitally distorted voice telling him he has 88 minutes to live.
OK, let’s stop right there. I guess it’s OK that he’s a forensic psychiatrist and a professor, but I don’t see why he can’t have just one job… well, I do see; it’s plot convenience. Being a college professor is an easy way to work beautiful young women into the movie who would have no other reason to hang out with 70 year old Pacino. I’ve never heard of a forensic psychiatrist before, but I’ve seen both of those words before, so I can guess what the job entails – so not a totally unusual career, but just obscure enough so that I’ll have no idea if what he does as a forensic psychiatrist is bullshit or not. (FYI, we’re not done with the job thing yet.) And you love the alliteration on “The Seattle Slayer,” right? Also, “Tick- tock, Doc” sucks. That’s got to be the worst bad guy catch phrase ever – it rhymes. Ugh, it fucking rhymes!
From here on out, the movie takes place in a little town I like to call Misdirection City. His students, his colleagues, his assistants, somebody dressed in black topped with a black motorcycle helmet with a tinted visor… any of these folks could be the person with the digitally distorted voice. This goes on for a while, including a totally silly attempt to frame Pacino. Pacino has his cohorts helping him with the investigation, which he and his teaching assistant are heading up, including brandishing Glock 9mm (the preferred weapon of law enforcement agents everywhere) and kicking down doors to search apartments without authority, not to mention a search warrant. (So, add ‘rogue cop’ to the lists of careers Pacino pursues in this movie.) The misdirection runs all the way to the end as the killer is revealed, revealed again, and then finally revealed one more time, but this time, it’s for real! (Rule of 3, I guess…) In the en (surprisingly enough), the bad guy doesn’t get away and Pacino doesn’t die 88 minutes from the first phone call.
Not only does 88 Minutes suck, but it’s a terrible title for a movie – almost as bad as using “Tick- tock, Doc” as a catch phrase. I guess it’s supposed to inspire tension, but when the movie’s hero is Al Fucking Pacino and you threaten his life, it’s hard to believe he’s ever actually going to die… because, you know, he’s the hero and the villain is faceless; it’s just a voice on a phone. The ending doesn’t make any sense – the bad guy keeps telling him he has x minutes to live, but when they finally confront each other, the bad guy wants a false confession. All that build up, but no real show down. (Sorry if I spoiled the movie for you, but it sucks, so I just saved you 108 minutes… funny that the movie is longer than 88 minutes, huh?)
I’m not the sort of guy that goes to his father for advice, but I did ask him about this movie – he was not a fan, either. Why, I asked him, would Al Pacino make such a movie at this point in his career? My dad guessed that it must be for the money, but Pacino must be so rich at this point, why bother? My dad went on to speculate that it was about creating a legacy of wealth that his family could live on for generations to come, and that’s as good a reason as any I can come with for why Pacino would participate in such a stinker. Then he made Jack & Jill, which I guess confirms this theory.
Anyway, this movie sucks.