NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Randy.
The opening credit sequence begins with Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) dancing in the club with a beautiful girl. Then they share a glass of wine. Then the movie begins flashing to pictures of random murder victims, and a young girl running on the beach with a kite.
Gramm wakes up to the radio blaring music. He looks over and sees the woman he was dancing with, nude brushing her teeth. Her name is Sarah and she is studying to become a lawyer. He walks into the kitchen and she is nude, wearing only an apron, serving breakfast.
He gets a phone call from Shelly (Amy Brenneman), who tells him that Frank Parks (William Forsythe) is looking for him. Frank tells Gramm there has been another murder. It follows the same MO as killings done by the Seattle Slayer. But this time, the killer has left a tape. Sarah looks out the window and sees a guy on motorcycle looking up at her. As Jack gets in his cab, he too sees the man on the motorcycle. But he is too busy to care about it.
On the radio in the cab, they are interviewing Jon Forster. He was convicted of killing Jodie Kates nine years ago. He was convicted based on the testimony of her twin sister Janie Kates. He is set to be executed at midnight. Gramm asks the driver to change the station. He notices a tattoo on the back of the drivers neck that says “R.R.” and then some date underneath it. And he sees that the driver’s name is Carlo Mendez.
At his office, Gramm meets Jeremy Gruber (Christopher Redman), who is head of the Seattle Slayer task force. Jon Forster, who is supposed to die at midnight, was convicted as the Seattle Slayer nine years ago. So now, Gramm believes that it is a copy cat. But Gruber believes that it may be one of Forster’s partners from way back, committing the murder to throw doubt on Forster. In doing so, it would get Forster exonerated or at least a new trial.
We also find out that is his conviction was based on Gramm’s expert opinion that got him convicted. Apparently Forster’s first trial was thrown out (Procedural error). And although there were six murders, Forster was only tried for one of them. Gruber asks Gramm if there was anything that he would like to reconsider, regarding the case. He says no. Gruber asks if he has a personal vendetta against Jon Forster. Gramm says he has a vendetta against all serial murderers.
Parks tells Gramm that Dale Morris (Kristina Copeland) was the latest victim. She was a student’s of Gramms. They had had a “professional” relationship a year ago, after her father died. They ask Gramm when he saw her last time. It was last night at the bar. She had toasted Gramm for Forster’s conviction not being overturned.
The tape that was left at the scene of the murder was a tape of Morris. She was tied up and beaten. She says to Gramm that he got the wrong guy. That Forster was innocent. She asks if the man will let her go. She screams that she read what he asked her too. Gramm looks dismayed, as you here Morris being killed on the tape.
He goes back to the university where he teaches. He is walking in the rain, when he gets a phone call. It starts with a woman screaming. Then a masked voice comes on and says, “You have 88 minutes to live. You know how long 88 minutes can be? 11:45am. Tick Tock.” He calls Shelly and tells her to call his wireless provider, to try and trace his last incoming call.
Gramm goes into his class and begins giving his lecture. Midway through, he gets another call saying he now has 83 minutes to live now. He looks around his class. At the top of the stairs, he sees the man who was on the motorcycle outside his apartment that morning. He then gets a call from Shelly, saying that the phone calls came from a pre paid cell phone registered to a Kate Gramm. She says is must be a coincidence, and it couldn’t be his sister.
His phone begins to cut out. The masked voice comes back and asks if he found out who the phone was registered to. He tells Gramm that she suffered for such a long time. He asks if he feels guilty for falsifying evidence and lying on the stand. 79 minutes.
The students find out that Dale Morris had been murdered and they ask Gramm about it. They ask if it was the slayer. He says maybe, but the police haven’t released any details. The dean of the university comes in the class room and says there has been a bomb threat. She tells everyone to gather their things to leave. As he is walking up the steps, a note appears on the projector that says “76 minutes to live...”.
Shelly calls Gramm to tell him that Dale’s name has gotten out to the press. Forster is asking for a stay of execution, stating the true killers have never been brought to justice. And they have also applied for a re trial, based on the belief that Gramm lied on the stand and falsified evidence. As Gramm is hanging up his phone, he drops it down the stairs, breaking it. He walks up to his car in the parking garage. It has been vandalized and on the trunk is scratched “72 minutes”.
Gramm runs into his assistant Kim (Alicia Witt). He borrows her cell phone. He tells her to pull his car around, so he can go to security. On his way, he hears a woman calling for help. It’s Lauren (Leelee Sobieski), one of his students. She tells him she was assaulted by a man in a leather jacket. He tries to cover her face with a cloth soaked in Helafain. The same stuff the Seattle Slayer uses.
I’ll skip ahead, but basically Parks runs a check of all of Gramm’s students who might have visited Forster in prison. Only one, Mike Stempt (Benjamin McKenzie) visited Forster four times in the last six weeks. He forged Gramm’s signature to get in to see him. Also, Kim’s ex- boyfriend served time in the same prison as Forster. Gramm asks Parks to track him down too. After almost getting run down by the guy on the motorcycle, Gramm gets a call on Kim’s cell phone that says, “How’s it feel to know you’re not going to live through another night? 56 minutes.”
Kim tells Gramm that the guy on the motorcycle is her ex. His name is Guy LaForge. Gramm brings Kim back to his apartment. There is a package waiting for him. It was dropped off by Guy. Inside the package is a tape recorder. Gramm plays it but at first it’s only static. Then after a second play, a girl’s voice comes on. It is Katie’s voice. She is calling for her parents and jack. It is very similar to the way Dale acted on the other tape. He then gets another call. The voice asks why he left little Katie all alone. And says she would be still alive, had he just not left her alone. Tick Tock. 47 minutes.
Forster is live on MSNBC talking about be wrongly convicted, so Gramm decides to call in to get him to crack. All it ends up doing is making Gramm look worse. It is announced that Forster has been granted a stay of execution. Forster breaks down in tears. Gramm just merely hangs up the phone. Parks calls and says that Gramm is wanted for questioning in Dale Morris’ death. There was physical evidence found at the scene. Parks says he needs to come in. Gramm hangs up the phone. The bell man buzzes Gramm that another package has shown up. Right then, the bell man yells at somebody for coming up. Gramm sets the alarm so no one can come in. Smoke begins to seep in under the door. LaForge begins banging on the door, looking for Kim. Kim opens the door in hopes of calming him down. Suddenly, he is shot from down the stairs by another person wearing motorcycle leathers and a helmet.
He leads Kim down the fire escape and out of the building. Someone sees Jack has a gun and the crowd becomes hysterical. Jack is almost run over by a fire truck. Kim presses the alarm button on Jack’s key chain. When nothing beeps, Jack throws Kim on the ground. His car explodes. Jack realizes that the key to his innocence is at the girl’s apartment he spent the night at. He bribes a cabby to drive his cab over to her apartment.
Before they go up, Jack finally breaks down and tells Kim the story about his sister. He was 28, and working on a big case. The guy he was after had killed 6 women and Jack was getting really close to catching him. Jack left his 12 year old sister home alone while he went to a meeting about the case. The guy broke in and did unspeakable things to Jack’s sister. When the police caught the guy, he laughed and said it took him 88 minutes to kill his sister. Jack was so out of it, he left it all behind and came to Seattle to see if he could get a fresh start. So whoever sent the tape and is trying to kill him knew the importance of 88 minutes.
They go up to her apartment. The door is unlocked. They go in to search around. Jack go into the girl’s bedroom, to find her hung up the same way Dale Morris and the rest of the Seattle Slayer’s victims were. Jack shows Kim a forged credit card receipt and tells her the apartment is filled with his DNA. He knows they will try to pin it on him. He gets a phone call from the dean of the school. She asks if he got the tape of Katie suffering and that his car blowing up would be a close call. She says she called Parks and told him that Gramm had killed Sarah after he killed Dale Morris. She says that Forster got a death sentence and he is about to free. She tells Gramm to meet her at his office, and that he only has 14 minutes. Tick tock.
On their way out, Shelly comes into the apartment. When she sees the body, she freaks out. She tells Gramm she it was her fault that someone stole the tape. She and Lauren Douglas had a few drinks together, had a little fun and they passed out on his couch. She had pictures of the person but they were wearing a helmet so it was impossible to see them. Gramm tells Shelly he needs to get to his office. He looks around for Kim but she is gone. He calls her Blackberry to tell her not to go to his office under in circumstances. On his way to the car, he is stopped by Parks. Parks says he needs to take Gramm in for questioning. Gramm says to give him ten minutes, then meet him at his office.
Gramm gets a call from Kim, saying she was the one behind everything. She had a computer call with an altered voice to threaten. Kim said he better get to his office. Only ten minutes left. Tick tock.
When he gets up to his office, he is confronted by Mike. Mike found Lauren’s bag in his desk with a gag and Halifain. He asks Gramm if he killed Dale Morris. And he asks if he attacked Lauren. Gramm’s phone rings. Kim tells him to come to the Stern building. 5 minutes.
Gramm leaves a message for Parks telling him to meet him the Stern building when he gets there. When Gramm enters the building, he looks up to see Dean Johnson hung upside down from the seventh floor. When he gets up the stair, Kim is gagged in a chair and standing next to her is Lauren Douglas. She is actually Lydia Daugherty, Jon Forster’s defense attorney. She has a gun to Kim’s head and she is holding the rope that is suspending Dean Johnson. She makes Jack confess on tape that he coached the witness in the trial and that he altered evidence. She says it’s a present for Jon. She calls the prison to talk to Jon. Jack says that calls can be monitored. She is not falling for his little ploys. He says he could just move his eyes and look at the FBI agent with his gun pointed at her. She says she won’t fall for his games. She points the gun to shoot Gramm, but Parks fires off a round first. Lydia falls and so too does Dean Johnson. Gramm jumps and grabs the rope before she falls. He unhooks the rope from Lydia, and she falls to her death. Parks makes his way over and helps pull the dean.
As Gramm is untying Kim, the phone rings. Forster is on the other line. He asks if she finished Gramm off. She says that she is unavailable. He tells Gramm that he has no idea who he is messing with. Gramm says that Forster took advantage of a confused young girl, and made her believe his lies. Forster begins laughing. Gramm says he can’t believe he had her kill so he could live. He had her join Gramm’s class so she could have unlimited access to all his files and would be able to plan the copy cat murders together. Forster says he is going to get out, have a hot meal, then stop by Gramm’s grave and piss all over it. He asks to speak to Lydia. Gramm says she is dead, and he only has 12 hours to live. Tick tock. Then he throws the cell phone over the ledge.
Flash forward. Gramm is in his class room speaking to some students and other guests. He announces that Jon Forster has been executed. It flashes to scenes of Forster’s execution. He is laughing insanely. Gramm says that it is not a time to celebrate, nor is it retribution. It is merely a road to justice.