Why is Al Pacino in 88 Minutes? Even the most prolific actors—and Pacino isn't that prolific—only get so many films. And of all the scripts out there, why choose one that requires him to explain that he didn't know the dead woman was a hooker when he slept with her, and that whoever's framing him for the crime must have pumped his semen out of the dead hooker and into the corpse of a former student, because he knows he never slept with her? It isn't like that's going to change into the final scene of The Godfather between page and screen.
His character isn't going to turn into Michael Corleone, either. Coasting again on hard-bitten, dark-witted mannerisms, Pacino plays a man whose profession is referenced so often that his full name might as well be "Forensic Psychiatrist Jack Gramm." After a 1997 sequence that introduces the brutal work of the Seattle Slayer (after clumsily establishing the era by having two characters discuss Princess Diana's death), the film fast-forwards to the present, where the man convicted in the killings awaits execution, thanks largely to the testimony of Forensic Psychiatrist Jack Gramm. But Forensic Psychiatrist Jack Gramm has some unpleasant surprises in store when someone starts killing people he knows in the style of the Seattle Slayer, but in a way that points the finger at him. But wait, there's more! A mysterious call informs him that he has only 88 minutes to live, and subsequent calls make sure he knows the clock is ticking.
From there, the film piles gimmicks on top of fake-outs on top of red herrings. Could the killer be Forensic Psychiatrist Jack Gramm's smitten teaching assistant (Alicia Witt)? How about Ryan from The O.C.? Also, why would the killer keep trying to kill Forensic Psychiatrist Jack Gramm every few minutes, after promising he would die at precisely 11:45 a.m.?
The questions don't end there, but director Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes, Up Close & Personal) seems to think that constant forward motion will silence them. "It's not absurd!" Pacino barks at FBI agent William Forsythe after explaining the whole dead-hooker-semen-pumping theory. Actually, it's pretty much the definition of absurd.