Al Pacino Month #4: 88 Minutes, Donnie Brasco

88 minutes

88 minutes is 2007 thriller, directed by Jon Avnet. In the movie ace actor Al Pachino, plays the role of a college professor and forensics expert, Dr Jack Gramm. He helps the FBI convict serial killer Jon Forster (played by Neil Mc Donough) to a death penalty. Years later, as the date of execution approaches, a similar murder takes place. Meanwhile, Dr. Jack receives an anonymous phone-call stating he has 88 minutes to live. The movie also casts Alicia Witt, William Forsythe, Amy Brenneman and Deborah Kara Unger.
The legend Al Pachino has failed to live up to his stature. His signature understanding of the role is lacking in 88 Minutes, as Dr. Jack Gramm. If you are expecting to see the stellar performance of Al Pachino’s The Godfather, Scarface or the Scent of a Woman, give this movie a skip. Many die-hard Al Pachino fans regret watching their heartthrob painfully sleepwalk through the movie.

The plot has a charm factor to it, being coherent and realistic; it had an extremely good base to work on. But unfortunately, the story telling and scene choices were extremely poor. The movie starts with a scene where a woman is hung upside down while a man rapes and cuts her. This was a very disturbing start and it didn’t quite create that aura it tried to invoke. It is a perfect example of how violence and nudity alone can’t create a classic thriller.

The flow of the film is not good either, with predictable events unfolding in a chaotic manner. It is very awkward when the audience has solved the crime well before the hero.

It’s more sadly comic to watch the shallow and diluted acting, from such expert actors. The characters have no depth to work on and are often one dimensional. There are also a plethora of unnecessary characters, which could have been easily avoided.

Movie- Donnie Brasco

Based on a true story about an FBI undercover agent Joshen D.Pistone aka Donnie Brasco, who reached into the heart of Bonanno Mafia Family of New York City, is the masterpiece Donnie Brasco. The crime drama directed by Mike Newell has Al Pachino and Johnny Depp, as lead actors. James Russo, Bruno Kirby and Anne Heche also have brilliantly played out their supporting roles.

Donnie, played by Johnny Depp streams his way into the mafia family with the help of henchman Lefty Ruggiero, who is played by Al Pachino. As he moves his way up, he faces immense psychological torment. On one hand he neglects his family without mentioning any reason for his absence, while on the other, he becomes emotionally attached to Lefty.

The nostalgic and notorious era of 1970’s New York is perfected to the last detail. With this in the backdrop, the story is played out with intense and fascinating directing and cinematography. The plot feels natural while the flow keeps the viewer glued to the screen for the entire 126 minutes.

The supporting cast is amazingly good while the intense role of Johnny Depp is worthy of special mention. Al Pachino delivers one of his most iconic performances, as the flamboyant and arrogant low-level worker in the mafia chain, with big dreams. The most moving part of the film is the relationship the two forms. Worlds apart from each other, they chart out their destiny working together with immense trust. They backed each other till the very end, with Lefty still not believing that Donnie was a rat. Donnie, at last, was seen as mentally broken and shattered by the whole event. The symbiosis they created makes this film an emotional roller coaster ride and sure makes it a watershed movie.

Watch this along with Goodfellas and The Godfather series, to completely soak yourself in the holy trinity of Mafia thrillers.


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