In Time

Movie Review #795: ‘In Time”s themes may be heavy-handed, but it has an intriguing premise, slick style, and great cast.

★★★
By Red Stewart
in_time

Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated PG-13 (contains violence, sexual content, partial nudity, profanity)
109 minutes

I’ve always found that singers tend to make really good actors, such as Eminem, Elvis, Keith Richards, Ice Cube, and David Bowie. Is it easy for them because they’re always putting up a persona on stage? Or does doing all those music videos help crystallize your dramatic skills?

Whatever the reason, Justin Timberlake has more than joined that list, having starred in a variety of films from popcorn comedies (“Friends with Benefits”) to Oscar-worthy dramas (“The Social Network”). In “In Time”, he plays Will Salas, a blue collar worker living in a world where humans genetically stop aging after they turn 25. The catch; everyone now has a timer on their arm which counts down how long you have left to live. Because of this, time has literally replaced money as the universal form of currency, and thus many people have to work to live. The whole situation can be seen as either dystopic or utopic depending on your income level; the rich are practically immortal given the large sums of hours they have at their hands, while the lower classes have to live almost day-to-day.

However, there’s a bigger conspiracy going on here that Will finds himself in when a rich benefactor (Matt Bomer) gives him the last hundred years of his life. Because of this unnaturally large exchange of time, Will earns the attention of the timekeepers, basically the policemen of this future, and is soon forced to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy businessman called Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

“In Time”’s biggest problem is that it really tries to be smart, but ends up divulging into too many action clichés and extended chase scenes. Seyfried and Timberlake make for a very appealing pair of leads, but they unfortunately spend most of the movie playing “Bonnie and Clyde” than advancing “In Time”’s themes, which is a shame given the intriguing premise director/writer Andrew Niccol has created. The writing is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I liked that Niccol addressed little things in this period that actually have a lot of impact on the world, such as how fast someone eats or walks. However, there were a few puns implemented that didn’t quite fit in (“can you spare me a minute?”).

The film currently holds a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, the main criticism being that the storytelling is too heavy-handed, which is true, though in my opinion it wasn’t to the levels of “Elysium”. If you couldn’t tell from the plot synopsis, “In Time” is a metaphor for the faults in capitalism. Given the biological immortality factor behind the film’s premise, I personally felt like it would’ve worked better as a modern reiteration of the novel Tuck Everlasting, though I suppose Niccol wasn’t keen on returning to the philosophical/scientific realm he had already skillfully explored in “Gattaca”.

In Time disappointingly settles for “The Matrix” formula of spectacle over substance, but Niccol’s direction and the performances of Timberlake and Seyfried add enough style to make it recommendable in my book. Plus the whole premise really does outdo itself, similar to “The Adjustment Bureau”, even if it isn’t taken complete advantage of.

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4 thoughts on “In Time

  1. I’m a huge fan of Justin as a performer, but I felt this film needed someone with bigger range than him. This movie had a fantastic concept but the execution wasn’t at that same level. Still, I had fun, and visually it’s a treat.

    • Yeah, the problem was they didn’t try to be silly, they were taking the concept seriously, which would’ve been fine had the execution by Niccol been better. Thanks!

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