Starring: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt
Director: Jon Avnet
Studio: TriStar/Sony 25615 [Release date: Sept. 16, 08]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: English or French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Extras: Alternate ending; Commentary track with Director; “Director’s Point of View” – on the making of 88 Minutes; “The Character Within” – Pacino discusses creating the perfect character; BD Live
Length: 107 minutes
Pacino stars in a very suspenseful thriller which doesn’t rely on a lot of extravagant special effects, explosions and absurd chases to keep you on the edge of your seat. It makes more major use of cell phones in the story than any other film I’ve seen recently, and a lesbian relationship is part of the plot but dealt with in a very matter of fact manner. Jack Gramm is a forensic psychiatrist teaching in a university in Seattle. It is approaching the day for execution of a twisted serial killer against whom Gramm had testified. Since there was no circumstantial evidence, the killer has gotten media attention that he might be innocent, and Gramm is running into accusations about his testimonies in this and other cases.
Suddenly a series of new killings begins, exactly following the opus operandi of the man in prison. The victims are people close to Gramm, including even one of his students. Then he begins receiving calls on his cell phone telling him he has just 88 minutes to live and the continuing countdown from that. The anonymous caller keeps saying “tick-tock,” which is what the original killer said to him when he had been sentenced. (The reason behind the 88 minutes time is revealed towards the end of the movie.)
Gramm is already rather paranoid about threats to him from others and has guns and a highly secure area of his office. He begins to be suspicious of all those around him, including his students. One of them helps him after he reveals his situation to her. As the clock ticks, tension and body count mount up. The convicted prisoner gets a last-minute stay of execution and Gramm is nearly stopped in his efforts to find his killer by an FBI friend who suspects he has staged the various killings himself – especially since the first victim was a woman who had spent the night with him just before she was killed. Most viewers probably won’t be able to figure out what is really going on in this excellent thriller until it is revealed at the end.
– John Sunier