It takes eight minutes, tops, to know that even by the conventionally lax standards of watch-and-toss serial-killer movies, 88 Minutes is a stinker, the more so for the thespian excesses of the accomplished cast. And stinkiest of all is Al Pacino, who drags his younger troops (among them Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, Alicia Witt, and The O.C.’s Benjamin McKenzie) down with him as he hams from the tips of his aerated, feathered hairdo to the stubs of his smeary goatee. Pacino plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. Jack Gramm, whose life is threatened by a caller using a Scary Movie voice disguise. The calls appear to be related to the impending execution of a vengeful, icy smoothie (Neal McDonough) convicted of multiple murders based on the shrink’s testimony.
Guilty in the first degree of robotic dialogue (the screenplay is by Gary Scott Thompson) and graceless direction (the credit goes to Jon Avnet), 88 Minutes features cell phones that ring in ridiculous situations and menace that lurks unimaginatively in parking garages and stairwells. That still leaves time for repeated, sadistic viewings of women strung up and sliced with fetishistic complexity of procedure. And for no good reason and every bad one, a character is pointedly self-described in the beginning as a lesbian — for the sole purpose of allowing her sexuality to compromise her professionalism late in the interminable countdown. F