The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 107 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Al Pacino, LeeLee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, Alicia Witt, Deborah Kara Unger, Benjamin McKenzie, William Forsyth
Directed by: Jon Avnet
Music by: Edward Shearmur
Written by: Gary Scott Thompson
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 16, 2008
"He has 88 minutes to solve a murder. His own"
Al Pacino stars in this riveting thriller about a forensic psychologist who receives a phone call threatening that he only has 88 minutes to live. As the clock ticks away, tension mounts, suspicions rise and blood flows. With a serial killer he helped to convict awaiting execution and a copycat killer on the loose, Jack Graham has 88 minutes to solve the biggest murder of his career: his own.
88 Minutes isn't exactly my idea of a riveting thriller. There is very little ground work laid out regarding the serial killer other than the film's opening scene which is poorly executed in my opinion. We are then taken to his trial where Dr. Graham testifies that Forster (McDonough) is a serial murderer who will surely kill again. He is convicted and sent to death row prison but not before he turns and looks at Dr. Graham and utters something like how do you think it would feel to know when you were going to die Dr. Graham, tick tock Doc tick tock. Fast forward 9 years, Jack is teaching classes on serial killers at the university. A murder that is identical to those perpetrated 9 years earlier that Forster was convicted for has occurred. Forster is due to be executed shortly and in light of the recent events questions are being raised about his guilt and Dr. Graham's testimony. The main characters are slowly introduced. Those that play important roles in the plot are several students from Graham's class, one of whom is his teaching assistant Kim (Witt), Mike (McKenzie) and Lauren (Sobieski). Then there is FBI special agent Frank Parks (Forsyth) and Dr. Graham's assistant Shelley (Brenneman). Jack is contacted by the FBI and Attorney General regarding the recent murder because the victim is one of his students. Shortly after this Dr. Graham receives a call on his cell phone and the caller tells him that he has 88 minutes to live tick tock Doc. A stranger dressed in leather biker gear begins to show up and appears to be following Jack. He becomes suspicious of his students and begins to have Shelley run checks on them. He receives intermittent calls from the same voice telling him how much time he as remaining. There are several flashback sequences that depict a young girl flying a kite who we later find out is Jack's little sister. She was the victim of a serial killer, years ago, who was seeking revenge on Jack. Jack becomes a suspect in the murder of his student after his DNA is found at the scene. Forster is granted a stay of execution and is interviewed live on TV. He challenges the conviction and Dr. Grahams credibility. Another murder victim surfaces and again evidence implicating Jack is at the scene. It now becomes obvious that Forster is orchestrating the copycat killings and Jack is being set up. The question is who is helping Forster and how can Jack's impending murder be stopped as the clock counts down?
It wasn't hard to figure out who was behind this. The plot was not only predictable but it wasn't very authentic. For me there were too many convenient coincidences and the perpetrator was infallible until the end when they became ridiculously stupid. The attempt at raising viewer suspicion among the various characters was transparent. We are talking about experienced law enforcement personnel and some of the things portrayed here made them look pretty silly. The ending was typical and when all the facts were revealed the motivation behind it all bordered on absurdity. I though that the casting was strong overall. I like Al Pacino but in all honesty prefer him in his earlier film roles. He seems to play pretty much the same character in his later films and although this one was a bit more vulnerable it still felt the same. Amy Brenneman was miscast in this role but I find her to be attractive and her presence certainly didn't make the film any less appealing. I though that Alicia Witt was solid and I haven't seen enough of LeeLee Sobieski to have an opinion one way or the other but she was fine. When all was said and done this one didn't work well for me.
The rating is for disturbing violent content, brief nudity, and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
88 Minutes comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
The first thing that I noticed about this video presentation was its rather drab color palette. Colors are reserved and kept to more sullen tones that don't lend themselves to producing vivid textures that can look great in high definition. I thought that the colors used in the film appeared natural with good tonal depth and rendering. Flesh tones were flat with little delineation and appeared either pancake white or burnt orange. Detail was good in most respects with only a handful of shots where sharpness wavered and resulted in a slight softening effect. Contrast and brightness achieved a good balance although it wasn't really tested with film taking place in Seattle which kept even exterior daytime sequences on the gloomy side. Blacks were above average but far from the best that I have seen. The audio presentation was satisfying and competently conveyed the elements present in the film's soundtrack. Dialogue was crisp and well articulated. The front three channels delivered the bulk of the sound and did so with excellent clarity and imaging. The surrounds and sub saw occasional use and supported the front heavy presentation with ambient effects and the bass reproduction that accompanied the film's music.
The bonus content didn't provide a very in depth look at the production but it did offer a general overview. This came in the form of a 7 minute making of feature hosted by Jon Avnet, and a short piece hosted by Al Pacino where he discusses the film and his character. I thought that the alternate ending was better than the theatrical one. It provided a bit more closure for the Jack Graham character and detailed more of what transpired after the theatrical ending. The disc is BD-Live enabled however they are not active as of this writing. I expect they will be available by release day.
- Dirtector audio commentary with Jon Avnet
- Alternate ending
- Director's point of view: featurette
- The character within: featurette
- (HD) 9 Blu-ray Disc previews
Al Pacino fans will probably be disappointed with 88 Minutes. It is not the worst thriller within the genre but it does not have the substance to make it a standout. It doesn't boast high gloss high definition video quality and earth shattering surround sound but it is certainly acceptable. I would recommend this one as a rental only.
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