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88 MINUTES

About 88 Minutes
"This message is for Dr. Jack Gramm…You got the wrong man… You have 88 minutes to live. 88 minutes, Dr. Gramm. Tick tock.”

"There's one thing in every story that is literally the guts of the movie,” says Jon Avnet, the director and producer of 88 Minutes. "In this case, the guts of the movie are Al's character, Jack Gramm.” 

The Academy Award®-winning actor's portrayal is a classic Al Pacino performance—mercurial, kinetic and charismatic. A respected forensic psychologist who is a frequent expert witness for the FBI and the Seattle police department, Gramm's powers of observation and deductive reasoning are pushed to their limits in the most intense hour and half of his life, as he tries to catch a killer before the killer catches up with him.

88 Minutes is the first collaboration between Pacino, the legendary star of such acclaimed films as The Godfather trilogy, Scarface and Heat, and filmmaker Avnet, whose numerous producing and directing credits include the Oscar® nominated Fried Green Tomatoes. Avnet acknowledges that two Hollywood powerhouses on the same set can be a potentially explosive combination.

"I wasn't sure whether our personalities would click or clash, since we're both kind of high-strung, opinionated people,” says Avnet. "But, like any living person, I'm an admirer of his work. He may be the best working actor in the film business today. You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be aware of that, and not to wonder what it's going to be like to work with him.”

Avnet's anxiety evaporated after their first meeting. "We hit it off pretty quickly. It was obvious to me he had a lot to offer and I think to him it was equally obvious that I knew what I was doing. The process of figuring out the best way to work together was a pretty interesting collaboration.”

Randall Emmett, another of the film's producers, was sure the role of Dr. Gramm, the brilliant, impulsive and charming master criminologist, would be an ideal part for Pacino to sink his teeth into. "I think to find a character with this much depth and this much complexity in a real commercial thriller is a gem,” he says. "We sent Al the script thinking, ‘Wow, Al Pacino in this role would be magic.'” 

After receiving an anonymous phone call telling him he has 88 minutes to live, Gramm turns his considerable resources toward tracking down the source of the call. At the same time, he is being taunted through the media by convicted serial killer Jon Forster, known as "The Seattle Strangler.” Gramm's testimony in court sealed the Strangler's fate, but after two copycat killings take place within hours of when Forster is scheduled to die, he receives a stay of execution. Not only are Gramm's professional judgment and ethics suddenly called into question, but because of his connections to both victims, he is suspected by some of staging the murders himself. In the course of one morning, he is stripped of all his defenses and left to face his unseen assailant's threats in a state of pure, raw emotion.

"I'm always attracted to a story that has a hook you can pitch,” says Emmett. "I started reading it and couldn't put it down. From first page to the last, it moved and that's what I'm always looking for as a producer—a story that really grabs you and has characters that you really feel for, and at the same time is a fun ride.” 

Avnet set to work tailoring the script to Pacino's talents. "Jack's inner demons are raging. Those are the kind of characters I think Pacino plays better than anybody. The movie's journey is not just the resolution of a plot, but the emotional evolution of a person who's been victimized. I think that will probably be the most surprising part of the movie. I think audiences will be surprised by who did what and how, but I think on an emotional level, Al's character and the revelation of who he really is will be quite powerfu

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