A college professor (Al Pacino), who moonlights as a forensic psychiatrist for the FBI, receives a death threat that says he has only 88 minutes to live. To save his life, he must use all his skills and training to narrow down the possible suspects, which include a disgruntled student, a jilted former lover and a serial killer on death row.
Al Pacino looks startled through much of 88 Minutes
, as though taken by surprise at being cast in a thriller that must've first passed across the desks of Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford. Still, Pacino brings his usual oomph to the role of a Seattle forensic psychiatrist, whose testimony secured the death sentence for a crazy serial killer (Neal McDonough). Wouldn't you know it, the very day the killer is sentenced to die, a copycat "Seattle Slayer" is on the loose, and Pacino starts getting ominous phone calls telling him the exact time of his own death. Tick tock: it's 88 minutes away. The film then serves up more red herrings than a Stalingrad fish fry, as possible culprits pop up every five minutes or so (among them an attractive group of med-school students played by Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, and Benjamin McKenzie). Lapses in logic abound, but if you hunker down and zone in on Pacino's weary-eyed, poufy-haired professionalism, you can enjoy the goings-on. (They even make him run up flights of stairs, which one would have thought beyond him now.) Seattle's frequent stunt double, Vancouver, B.C., stands in as a location, and Jon Avnet supplies the slick direction. The cast is talented (including Amy Brenneman), leading you to guess that a lot of people will do anything just to work with Al Pacino. And you've got to admire Pacino's chutzpah at sharing the screen with statuesque actresses such as Brenneman and Sobieski; they tower over him, but he still holds his own. --Robert Horton
Stills from 88 Minutes (click for larger image)