Saturday, November 08, 2008
Dear Mr. Pacino:
Too often in our society, legends are built way too fast and torn down way too early. It's the American way, I think. We recognize what looks like talent, get overly excited about, ride it like a horse until we find it's flaw and then we tear it down. We wonder aloud if the substance was there in the first place, and mock the wanna-be as we kick him or her in the ribs one last time before walking away.
Take Sarah Palin for example.
But you, Mr. Pacino, are the real deal. You've starred in some of the most important films in American history, and given performances that inspired generations of actors into their craft. Your work helped shape and mold the industry, through your diversity, depth of character and commitment to the role. Kids grew up wanting to be Al Pacino.
I know that for certain.
Out of respect for your talent and the incredible body of work that you've produced, I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt about some of your recent movie role choices. I'm well aware that, sometimes, films start out as a great idea and go bad along the way. A movie can get ruined in post-production, even. The editing can set a poor pace and turn an audience away. Those types of problems are out of the control of actors, of course, and shouldn't be attributed to their performance.
But 88 Minutes, Mr. Pacino...88 Minutes is something else entirely.
As Forensic FBI Psychiatrist Jack Gramm, you study the really bad guys in our society. The serial rapists and killers who seem compelled to commit horrendous crimes again and again. You study them, give your professional opinion in court so they can be locked away forever and then you teach up-and-coming profilers how you did what you did. Gramm's got some personal demons; he drinks too much and is a notorious womanizer. But he's a rock star in the world of CSI. Gramm's reputation is hard and fast, edgy and decisive, always-two-steps-ahead. Of everyone.
Except in how you portray him, Mr. Pacino.
Your Jack Gramm is slow to act, awkwardly dramatic and a diva. He's surrounded himself with incompetent employees and unstable students, and doesn't seem to notice. Gramm's reputation with his FBI colleagues should be solid based on his past efforts, but their relationship falls apart at the mere hint of a crisis. And Gramm's taste in women leaves a lot to be desired.
The movie was lame, Mr. Pacino. I'm guessing you know that. But most disturbing to me is that your work was lame in it as well. The effort wasn't there, sir. The dedication was missing. I've seen your work turn a bad movie idea into an pretty good popcorn flick, so I know what you can bring to the screen.
You phoned this one in.