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Vol. LXII, No. 17
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

TICK TOCK, DOC: Former FBI forensic psychiatrist Jack Gramm (Al Pacino), whose testimony several years earlier led to notorious serial killer Jon Forster (not shown) being sentenced to death, has received an anonymous phone call informing Gramm that he only has 88 Minutes to live.

88 Minutes: Pacino Plays Psychiatrist Running From Serial Killer

Kam Williams

About ten years ago, Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) was the key prosecution expert witness whose testimony helped send rapist/serial killer Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) to death row. As the notorious “Seattle Slayer” was being led out of the courtroom he looked the FBI’s forensic psychiatrist, who was responsible for his conviction, straight in the eye and whispered, “Tick-tock, Doc,” a veiled threat that it was just a matter of time before he would avenge his conviction.

Fast forward to the present and we find Forster in prison and finding out that his latest, and last, appeal was rejected. His execution will provide a measure of closure to Janie Cates (Tammy Hui), the twin sister of one of his victims (Vicky Huang), plus some comfort to Gramm, who is now teaching in a medical school, and is drinking to excess and womanizing.

On the eve of Forster’s scheduled execution by lethal injection, Gramm receives a chilling call on his cell phone in which the caller repeats the “Tick-tock, Doc” refrain. In addition, the electronically altered voice informs Gramm that he only has 88 Minutes to live.

The sinister caller then embarks on a frenetic crime spree, mutilating and murdering people close to Gramm in order to implicate him in a series of copycat murders. The perpetrator then proceeds to wreak havoc across the city, eluding a conspicuously absent police force while blowing up cars, setting fires, and running over pedestrians with a motorcycle. He also keeps Gramm on speed dial to remind him of his impending death.

Patently preposterous at every turn, 88 Minutes is more action-packed than the average Bugs Bunny or Road Runner cartoon. Al Pacino still has the charisma to turn a turkey into a film that’s almost watchable, if only for the laughs.

Regrettably, a splendid supporting cast topped by Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman. William Forsythe, and Alicia Witt finds itself working from a silly script laced with implausible dialogue, illogical plot developments, and more smelly red herrings than the Fulton Fish market. Really, how can virtually every character be a prime suspect including the potential victim himself?

A comical crime thriller where you’re likely to find yourself more interested in the unintentionally funny goings-on than by trying to solve the mystery.

Fair (1 star). Rated R for profanity, disturbing violence, and brief nudity. Running time: 108 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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