this case, that number does not refer to the number of keys on a piano. It
could well be the number of times director-co-screenwriter April Mullen flashes
forward or backward along her temporally fractured narrative. The number also seems
to hold some significance for the black-out prone heroine of Mullen’s 88 (trailer here), which releases
on DVD today from Millennium Entertainment.
name is Gwen or perhaps Flamingo. She has just come to in a roadhouse diner in
front of a huge plate of food. We soon learn Gwen/Flamingo was on the warpath a
short while ago, looking for some payback from the men who killed the love of
her life. She knows her gangster employer Cyrus is somehow behind it all, but
the exact details are sketchy. However, once she reached the diner, a switch
was flipped in her head. She is now completely lost and confused, especially
when she discovers the local sheriff’s deputies are highly upset with her. Ty,
her apparent accomplice, will try to keep her at-large and on-target, as she
waits for the world to start making sense again.
a complicated time-skipping narrative structure works, it can be
mind-spinningly rewarding, as with the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination, opening this week. When it doesn’t, it can be an
awful headache. Admittedly, 88 sort
of comes together down the stretch, but most of the film feels forced and
unnecessarily convoluted. Even though it mostly makes sense at the end, Mullen
and co-writer Tim Doiron lose sight of the whole point of a revenge thriller,
denying us the vicarious satisfaction of vengeance taken good and hard.
Frankly, the implications are rather messagey, making you wonder if Mike
Bloomberg underwrote the film.
simpler approach probably would have borne greater fruit, especially with
up-and-coming cult star Katharine Isabelle (American
Mary) as the traumatized vigilante. Keep it simple. Point her and Ty
towards the bad guys and let them go. Indeed, you can see why Isabelle’s geek
fanbase continues to grow. She is quite effective in both her assertive and
passive timelines, while looking good in tight, bloodstained wardrobe.
might have over-complicated the script with Mullen, but he gives the film
regular energy boosts as Ty. Likewise, Mullen chews the scenery quite enjoyably
in her too brief appearance as Lemmy, the illicit gun dealer. Of course,
Christophe Lloyd is no stranger to playing heavies, once again maintaining his standards
of bug-eyed, erratic villainy as Cyrus. It is also cool to see Michael Ironside
do his thing as the world weary sheriff.
There are a number of cleverly realized scenes
in 88, but it labors under the weight
of its temporal shifts and ultimately takes itself too seriously. Still, it has
enough fan favorites, like Isabelle and Ironside, to justify some time-killing
on Netflix, but it is not something you will feel compelled to add to your
collection of physical media. For the faithful and the curious, 88 is now available on DVD and BluRay
from Millennium Entertainment.
Labels: Christopher Lloyd, DVD, Katharine Isabelle, Michael Ironside