Fastforward 9 years and Forster is about to be put to death for the Seattle Slayer murders. Gramm is a professor at a Seattle university teaching forensics to a bright group of grad students. On the eve of Forster's execution, one of Gramm's students turns up dead, in the exact same manner that the Seattle Slayer murdered several women all those years before - by drugging them with halophane, stringing them upside down with carabiner clips and rope and cutting them up. Unfortunately, all of the students were partying with Gramm the night before, celebrating Forster's impending execution, and Gramm spent the night with a mysterious stranger, one who will later turn up dead in the same way.
Not long after the student's body is discovered, Gramm begins to receive cell phone calls, a mysterious voice saying "You have 88 minutes to live. Tick tock Doc." Not only does this resonate with Gramm as what Forster stated to him many years earlier, but we later discover that Gramm's young sister was murdered by a killer he went up against many years before and the 88 minutes relates to this crime. As the minutes pass and Gramm's life meter ticks away, he begins to try and figure out who is doing this. Could it be his teaching assistant, Kim (Alicia Witt), who has a crush on him and has a stalking ex-boyfriend with a gun, or could it be one of his other intense students, Lauren (Leelee Sobieski), who is attacked with halophane by an unknown assailant at the school, or Mike (Benjamin McKenzie), who seems just a bit too accusatory of Gramm. How about the dean of the school, Carol Johnson (Deborah Kara Unger), who has a few secrets of her own and seems to have some animosity towards Gramm?
The one person that seems to be able to hold it all together for Gramm is his personal assistant, Shelly (Amy Brenneman), who is constantly patching calls through to him, whether they be from Special Agent Frank Parks (William Forsythe), who is investigating the Seattle Slayer, or even a newscaster for MSNBC, as Forster pleads his case on national TV in an attempt to get a stay of execution and Gramm decides to say his piece as well. As things devolve and Gramm's personal life is invaded by whoever must be working with Forster, he seems to be the frame-up for these new copycat murders and it becomes a race against time for him to save his life, both literally and figuratively.
88 Minutes is a pretty good thriller. All of the actors are excellent. Pacino is perfect as the arrogant Gramm who gets knocked down a few pegs. Brenneman shines as the controlled assistant who finds she is all too human and Witt, Sobieski and Unger are all very intense in their roles. Altogether, it's a really good ensemble cast. Special features are lean, but there is an alternate ending which is worth watching. Aside from that, there are two featurettes, one on building the Gramm character and another that discusses how the film was created. While I can't say 88 Minutes is one to buy, definitely rent it if you enjoy a good thriller and a nail-biter. The plot is solid, the acting is really good and 88 Minutes will keep you guessing until the end.