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Movie Review

88 Minutes a.k.a. “Eighty-Eight Minutes,” “88,” “88 Minutos,” “88 lepta,” “88 minuuttia”

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, brief nudity and language

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller, Crime, Drama
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 18, 2008 (wide—2,000 theaters)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony)
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures / TriStar Pictures (Sony)

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Featuring: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, William Forsythe, Deborah Kara Unger, Benjamin McKenzie, Neal McDonough, Leah Cairns, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Redman, Brendan Fletcher, Michael Eklund, Kristina Copeland, Tammy Hui, Victoria Tennant, Michal Yannai, Paul Campbell, Brenda McDonald, Carrie Genzel, Kaj-Erik Eriksen, Heather Dawn, Julian D. Christopher, Tim Henry, Brad Turner, Michael Adamthwaite, Jean Montanti, Timothy Paul Perez, Marcus Hondo, Judith Yamada, Lea Nicole Carranza
Director: Jon Avnet
Producer: Jon Avnet, John Baldecchi, Lawrence Bender, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Randall Emmett, Michael P. Flannigan, George Furla, Todd Gilbert, Manfred D. Heid, Gerd Koechlin, Josef Lautenschlager, Avi Lerner, Marsha Oglesby, Trevor Short, Andreas Thiesmeyer, Gary Scott Thompson, John Thompson, Shawn Williamson
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures (Sony)

“He has 88 minutes to solve a murder. His own.”

I did a little test while watching “88 Minutes,” the new serial-killer thriller staring Al Pacino. When Pacino’s character, Dr. Jack Gramm, a forensic psychiatrist and college professor, receives a phone call from an “anonymous voice” saying he has 88 minutes to live, I set the timer on my phone to see if he did indeed have 88 minutes till he died, or killed those trying to do him in. More on this in a bit.

Gramm was the main witness in the case against Jon Forster, a man accused of a brutal murder and considered the killer in five other rape/murders. While apparently lacking a lot of physical evidence, Gramm’s testimony was enough to convict Forster, and he was sentenced to death. On the morning of the execution, Gramm receives the aforementioned call, and must race against time to find who is out to get him. Also throwing a kink into the already dicey situation is the fact that Forster is pushing hard for a stay of execution, and more and more people seem convinced of his innocence, and that Gramm had a personal vendetta against Forster.

Gramm enlists the help of various students, assistants, and colleagues in his attempt to catch his would-be-killer, but begins to see each of them through very paranoid eyes.

The content of “88 Minutes” is rather typical for this genre. Surprisingly though, there is very little profanity to speak of. I heard one F-word, and four or five GDs, but nothing else really. There is some very senseless nudity. In the beginning of the film, Jack wakes up to see the women he apparently spent the previous night with, doing nude stretching while brushing her teeth. This is brief, and there is also brief nudity later in a flashback. A few times women are seen kissing each other. The bodies of some of the female victims are seen in little clothing, and strung from a roof in various positions.

The violence is what you’d expect from a serial-killer/torturer type of film, but the violence wasn’t what made “88 Minutes” uncomfortable for me to watch. Call me old-fashioned, but I have ZERO desire to ever see a scene in any movie where victims are being tortured, and we have to watch the people screaming and begging for the killer to stop. I, also, don’t want to ever have to hear an audio-tape where a twelve-year-old is being murdered. We know these people are dead, we don’t need slow replays of how it happened. It’s senseless, and takes away from any story.

And, frankly, the story needed all the help it could get, because this is an AWFUL film; it doesn’t deserve a single star. To see Al Pacino try to make something of a dreadful script and a ridiculously corny plot is painful for the viewer. Gramm receives the first phone call telling him of his time left to live, and then the killer feels the need to call a few more times over the next 10 minutes, to apparently remind him that he has 81 minutes, then 77 minutes, etc.

He and his class are forced to evacuate the building, but not before someone has time to write on the overhead projector Gramm’s remaining time. Then, when he gets to the parking lot, he finds his car windows smashed to bits, and the new “time-tally” written on the back of his bumper. Had he never gone back to his car to see that, or gone 20 minutes later, would the killer have adjusted the time?? I was scratching my head trying to figure out why the killers would call Gramm telling him he has 30-ish minutes, but then try to blow up his car, which obviously would cheat Gramm out of his time, and ruin any opportunity for the killer to explain to Gramm before they kill him how they did it all.

We all know that in every movie like this, the killer HAS to spill the beans, so with that in mind, and with the clock ticking, we know Gramm isn’t actually in any danger until the very end, and therefore don’t care much. When the end does finally come, the stupidity of the explanation is frankly unfathomable, and embarrassing. Had this movie starred C-movie actors and actresses, it would have been a straight to video clunker, but somehow the likes of Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski, and William Forsythe were talked into tarnishing their names for a paycheck.

As the final minutes ticked away, and I was able to stop my timer, I was frankly very disappointed. It ended up being 77 minutes from the time Gramm got the call to the time the finale occurs. I wasn’t upset that I had been cheated out of 11 minutes. Honestly, I was quite happy that we weren’t subjected to any more of this dreck. But, in a movie that gets so many things horribly wrong, shouldn’t they have at least tried to synchronize the time the character is given to the time it takes us to watch it? In any case, this movie should be seen by nobody, and I can only hope by my wasting “88 Minutes” plus of my life, Christian audiences will not do the same.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—As a student of forensic psychology who would someday like to do the kind of work the character Jack Gramm does, I was very excited to see this movie—and it certainly met my expectations. No, it wasn’t perfect, and Gramm sometimes doesn’t make the same decisions a professional would (handling a package he thought might be a bomb, going to meet his would-be killer instead of sending a SWAT team in his place and waiting out the 88 minutes under police protection), but the people he suspects, he does for all the “right” reasons (except, ironically, the one who happens to be after him—he fails to become suspicious in one relatively minor incident where things don’t quite seem right).

I don’t enjoy watching people getting tortured and killed. However, as someone who intends to work in this field, I’m aware that it happens, and I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by turning a blind eye to the suffering in the world. I urge Christians who view this movie to be aware that serial killers don’t come out of a vacuum. They begin as human beings in need of love and warmth, and if what they get instead is fear and pain, they never develop a conscience and the lust for power consumes them. I don’t sympathize with them, but with the children they once were. Remember that the kindness and love we put out into this world really does make a difference.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Feral Burns, age 25
Negative—Don’t go see this move! It is awful, hard to follow, gross and a total waste of time. It is a disgrace.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jlaquey, age 56
Negative—I read the professional review above and on that alone made my decision not to see the movie. I am certain that I have not missed out on anything. I’ll just wait for something that is more worthy of a christian to spend their time doing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Lu, age 39