While it tries really hard to tell a compelling, complex story, 96 Minutes just misses the mark in covering all its bases. I’ll admit that I was pretty excited about this one, as the allure of a carjacking gone wrong involving four people sounded interesting. But there’s just too much going on with its scattered plot and unsympathetic characters, and not enough development in the very places that would have elevated it beyond the predictable. That’s sure to leave most with little to care about when the movie ends.
Fellow reviewer Chris Pandolfi and I pretty much agree on this one, which is summed up in nicely in the following snippet of his review during the film’s limited-release in May. Those interested should check out his full review right HERE:
“Movies in which separate storylines converge are tricky to pull off, and 96 Minutes is an example of the ways in which it can go wrong. This is not to say that the film is a total failure or even bad; it simply doesn’t reach its full potential. Writer/director Aimee Lagos is obviously sincere in her efforts, and through her characters and the desperate situation four of them end up in, she makes some valid points about class, race, and the legal system. The issue is not the intent, but the execution. Some of the dialogue, for one thing, is just shy of preachy, which in turn makes specific situations seem mechanical and forced. There’s also the fact that, because the story weaves several storylines together, it occasionally veers into territory that’s either completely incidental or so distantly related that its overall effect is negligible.”
For the most part, I did enjoy 96 Minutes, as it brought back memories of the 2004 award-winning hit Crash. But there were several things holding it back from being the masterpiece that it desperately wants to be – and probably thinks it is. There’s just no connectivity with any of the characters, which makes things feel rushed when some much-needed character development would have done wonders. When the credits rolled I couldn’t have cared less about anyone in the movie, and combined with some unnecessary subplots spread throughout only drive the convoluted story even further down the well-beaten and predictable path.
At least the picture and sound quality are pretty good for a DVD, as the video transfer comes in as clean and detailed as it can, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio makes sure the dialogue and effects can be heard clearly. There’s not much in the way of special features sadly, as there’s only an audio commentary track featuring director Aimee Lagos and actor David Oyelowo (Red Tails) talking about some of the different aspects of what went into making the film. While it’s a nice commentary track, it would’ve been even nicer to have some other standard extras such as cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes features, and more like that.
For what it’s worth, 96 Minutes is a decent film that has its moments. But there’s always that nagging feeling that makes you wonder if it had just gone that extra mile how much better it might have been. With its melodramatic assertions on race and class in modern society it desperately wants to be the next Crash, but the narrative lacks the structure and consequence needed and feels weighted by its own ambitions. In its defense, this is definitely the type of film that works better from the comfort of home, as there’s definitely enough here to make this an easy rental or quick bargain-bin find. If you’re into films that weave a tale from multiple viewpoints, then you’re bound to get some enjoyment from the proceedings.
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