Sunday, September 21, 2008

88 Minutes: Grade D

88 Minutes (2008)
Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Deborah Unger; Director Jon Avnet.

It’s a lot of fun for me to watch movies set in Seattle. I can say things, like, “How did they step out of the University of Washington right into Pioneer Square?” But other than seeing my city in the movies, there was not much to sustain this poorly written and directed whodunit. Pacino, with a bizarre bouffant hairdo, is a forensic psychiatrist (even though his office door says psychologist), who is called in to profile a serial killer who hangs beautiful young women upside down from one leg before he cuts them. Do we really need to see tortured and mutilated women, repeatedly? What were they thinking? I get what a serial killer is, without the exploitative, vicious misogyny. It's offensive.

Pacino gets a series of mystery calls on his cell from someone who claims they will kill him in 88 minutes, 70 minutes, only 56 minutes, etc. Why he believes this is unknown until the end of the movie when a lame explanation is offered, but he apparently thinks the serial killer is after him, even though, if he were hung upside down by one ankle, his wig would fall off.

There is much racing about in his Porsche convertible, although nobody buys convertibles in Seattle. You could only lower the top 1 week out of the year. Suspense is sustained by introducing a long line of red herrings, false leads, false confessions, nonsense actions and arbitrary flashbacks. I chuckled when Pacino’s character stops people and interrogates them by flashing his wallet credential: “Licensed Forensic Psychiatrist.” Wow, that would make you raise your hands! In the end, the “bad guy” is discovered (although it was obvious to me at 50 minutes).

Pacino doesn’t act; he just plays Al Pacino. The other actors give television grade performances, even Sobieski, who is way better than this (e.g., My First Mister). Unger still has magic. There is just enough artificial story suspense and kinetic imagery to save this badly written work from complete failure.

1 comment:

  1. The best part of this movie is reading the angry/disappointed blurbs of reviews on rottentomatoes.