Time is money, and in our apparent future of In Time, time is life. Humans are engineered with their 25th year being a key milestone; not only do they stop aging on this birthday, but a countdown clock of one year begins ticking away on their arms. Time can be added, spent, and lost with a simple touch, and time has become the currency of everything in our world. The poor are left to live with no time to spare, often awaking with less than a day’s worth of time, and are constantly in a state of flux as they beg, borrow, and work their way for more time. Walled off in their own time zone, the rich are immortal. In possession of thousands to millions of years of time, they could literally live forever if they so choose. When our hero, Will Salas, is given a dying gift of a century’s worth of time his life begins to change in ways he couldn’t possibly have foreseen.
Andrew Niccol is a very talented visual filmmaker and he makes In Time look great. The film’s art direction, cinematography, and world building are all very affective and the concept is extremely clever.
The allegory the film aims for is also extremely timely and a great message to be sending in our day and age. The rich taking advantage of the poor is nothing new and very topical in our 99% society that is being screwed over every day in this country. These are the film’s strengths, its weaknesses are unfortunately more detrimental then these can make up for.
I usually don’t get nit-picky with movies, but once this film lost me all I could do was analyze it and break it a part. First off, the film and I parted ways because the script is just a mess with no narrative through line in the slightest. The film jumps all over the place and doesn’t know what it wants to be. It also throws logic right out the window and never really bothers to validate a lot of what it is trying to do. Characters’ motivations are inconsistent to non-existent and a lot of thing just don’t make sense. Why are we producing hi-tech items in turn of the twentieth century/industrial revolution factories? Why are all our buildings bombed out and disheveled? Why did we have to embrace this time system of life and currency? How do those “fights” work? These are just the tip of the iceberg of questions one could ask about this film. The lack of a compelling story keeps viewers an arm lengths away as well, and good looking filmmaking and actors can’t distract you from that.
Speaking of those good looking actors, this movie is full of them; and luckily they all can do an alright bit of acting as well. Justin Timberlake has proven in the past he can do a great job when given good dialogue, but here, he can’t elevate the material like some actors can. Not that this is a big problem for him, but the film suffers. Amanda Seyfried fits the part physically, but again isn’t given a whole lot to do besides be a damsel in distress. She and Timberlake have some chemistry, but the relationship is quite forced, instead relying on the audience to believe two gorgeous human beings will obviously fall for each other. Cillian Murphy delivers the best work in the film, but, again, his character makes no sense. I find it impossible to believe he would perform his job under the circumstances in which he does and his character’s arc goes nowhere with a terrible conclusion. Olivia Wilde is great in her role here, but we get far too little of her to enjoy, especially considering the fun at simply seeing her as a mom to Timberlake. Vincent Kartheiser, Johnny Galecki, and Matt Bomer are all very adequate in their roles as well, with none given a whole lot to do.
In the end, In Time is quite the mess, but at least it is a pretty one. The actors are all fine, but the script gives them nothing to do while also making futurists shake their head/laugh at the absurdity of the film’s vision. Andrew Niccol tries to make the most of the mess, but the film barely makes it out alive. I was restless and ready to go before this one was all said and done and the Robin Hood parallels really go nowhere. Anyways, this will play better on cable TV than it does in a theater and I wouldn’t recommend running out to see it any time soon. But while flipping the channels in a couple of years and your TV just so happens to land on this, I am sure you can find some sort of enjoyment; if not you can always just change the channel.
In Time is a D-