I think Al Pacino might actually be a dead person.
Dead people aren't known for having glowing orange tans like the one Pacino sports in 88 Minutes, but then neither do residents of Seattle, where it's set. Surely they covet the burnished bronze skin those of us who live on the other side of the Cascades get just by stepping outside in August, but they'll just have to settle for their music scene, pro sports teams and many delicious but affordable restaurants.
But enough about that hellhole. No, the reason I think Pacino's dead is because he keeps appearing in these stinkbomb movies that respected mega-stars with fully living brains steer clear of. (They generally leave them all for Nicolas Cage.) Choosing these roles of his own free will makes no sense, so we can only conclude he's an old-school zombie, the kind who march around to the beat of their voodoo drummers.
Somewhere, a brilliant Caribbean overlord is slathering tanning butter all over Zombie Pacino's face to hide the fact he's a walking corpse, agreeing to the first script that crosses his desk, then cashing his fat-ass checks. Unlikely? Yeah, well, not any more so than believing anyone could read 88 Minute's crazy, nonsensical script and thinking, "Hey, that's something I want to be a part of."
After a brutal killing, the testimony of forensic psychologist Al Pacino was crucial in the conviction of Neal McDonough, the "Seattle Slayer." Nine years later and mere days before the killer's slated to be executed, someone strikes again, duplicating the Slayer's methods and throwing McDonough's sentence into doubt.
By what is surely a coincidence, Pacino gets a death threat shortly after learning about the new murder: he has 88 minutes to live, the caller says, then he'll be killed like a dog.
Meanwhile, the police investigation begins to turn up evidence that not only looks like it'll clear McDonough completely, but points the finger at Pacino instead. With the clock ticking, he's got to find the new killer before he becomes the next victim.
I've only dealt with a couple serial killers myself, but it seems to me if you tell a guy he's got 88 minutes to live, you don't start trying to shoot him or blow him up until those 88 minutes are done. I don't care how many people you've killed, a promise is a promise. Start breaking those, and we're right back to living in yurts and wiping with leaves.
No doubt that's just a cheap way to amp up the tension; otherwise, we the audience might just be lulled to sleep, guaranteed that whatever happens to Pacino, at least he's got a full hour and a half to tear around Seattle traffic in an enchanted taxi cab that delivers him wherever he needs to be in five minutes or less as he and his teaching assistant chase down any number of false leads.
That need to manufacture suspense would also explain director Jon Avnet's decision to resort to a truckload of camera tomfoolery to implicate suspects. Nothing says "serial rapist and murderer" like a crash-zoom on someone's eyes. 88 Minutes knows this well enough to use the same technique on an entire classroom of college students.
You know what would be even scarier than extreme closeups of students' eyes, though? If they were blind in one eye, or they had a big fat mole on their face, or if they spoke with a Eurotrash accent. Now that's how you make people look evil without coming up with anything original. It's like if you wanted to make a flashback, then you'd make sure to make it look like a '70s home movie in slow motion, all dreamy and grainy and washed-out. Oh, hold up--88 Minutes does that, too.
Then again, rolling out a bunch of ridiculous movie cliches isn't such a bad idea so long as they're distracting us from the even more ridiculous plot. Just once I'd like to see a serial killer's laughably complicated plan for revenge not go off perfectly until the hero thwarts it in the very end. Is that too much to ask? A little believability in our criminal masterminds? The holes in this one aren't necessarily in the plot points -- the godlike stalking, the car bomb, the extraction of Pacino's semen from a live woman into a dead one -- but in the fact the movie never shows the team of trained elves helping the killer pull all this crap off.
All of which amounts to a steaming pile of bad. It's the kind of movie you get halfway through and realize it's a cruel joke that 88 Minutes is 108 minutes long.