About the most complex contribution Jon Avnet's 88 Minutes makes is that it somehow manages to be both predictable and surprisingly disappointing. Writer Guy Scott Thompson, whose other contributions include the TV show Knight Rider (2008), provides a fairly simple plot involving a highly successful celebrity psychiatrist (celebrity in that he's well-esteemed in his small Seattle pond, not celebrity in that he councils the rich and famous) who is slowly stalked (via cell phone!) by a creepy techno-altered voice that may or may not be coming from a copy-cat killer. Pacino, who is entirely miscast here, approaches his Dr. Gramm as if to say, I have played this character a thousand times. Now, what's my line? Typically he is stimulating and brings energy to even the most 2-dimensional roles, yet here he seems only exhausted and disheveled.
Dr. Gramm, despite being quite successful profiling crime scenes and serial killers, has terrible boundaries with his students. He flirts with them, drinks with them, and is out one night with them at a bar celebrating the fact that a serial killer (Neal McDonough) he helped send to death row has lost an appeal for clemency. Soon someone is dead and then we all arrive with Pacino staring out at his classroom, wondering which one of the clean-cut, pretty, model-like actresses is the killer.
It isn't long before we have car explosions and lots of people, including the unknown techno-voice killer, scrambling around and haunting each other on the phone. People jump from behind dark corners in garage stairwells, cryptic taunts miraculously appear, and then characters seem to suddenly get invented and written into the script for no other reason than to serve as "yet another unexpected suspect" who we all know didn't really do it. Or maybe they did. By the time we are head-first into this thing we don't really care. By the time the real killer is finally presented, we are delighted - not because we are surprised but because then we know that this convoluted and contrived mess that has all of the logic and brilliance of a 90s B-flick (see Sliver) is finally coming to an end. At some point I actually grew as exhausted as Pacino looks and lost interest and started counting how many times his character's phone rang, say, within 5 minutes. That was far more entertaining than the 108 minutes lost watching 88 Minutes.