88 Minutes : Hoo-Ah! Pacino Unleashed!

Jon Avnet's cheesy new thriller is 105 minutes long, and I feared that 100 of them would be eaten up by Al Pacino chewing scenery. Alas, it's worse than that. Though his hair looks like Mount St. Helens preparing to blow, Pacino's going for world-weary, heavy-lidded ennui as Jack Gramm, a Seattle forensic psychiatrist and professor in symbiotic thrall to Forster, the death-row serial killer (cyborgian Neal McDonough) he once helped put away. Dark secrets flow out of Gramm's past in perfect parallel with the blood that pours out of the drugged, trussed, and hung young female victims of the copycat killer who bedevils his case against Forster. If Gary Scott Thompson's laughably expository screenplay and Pacino's eye-rolling weren't enough to flag Gramm's blooming paranoia, a thumping score gilds the lily, along with endless cutaways to the faces of his various nubile adjuncts, frozen in attitudes of studied ambiguity. With its lumbering black humor and phony pretense to moral complexity, 88 Minutes is an ugly specimen. There is, however, one way in which, all unawares, the movie works like a charm—as a twisted essay on the aging man's fear of and desire for the young female body. We may have to sit through worse films to come this year, but with any luck, there'll be none as guilelessly, idiotically misogynist as this one.

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