Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This straight up sci-fi film is as about sci-fi as you can get without having little green men in it. In this movie immortality is an achievable thing, but only for a very privileged few. In order to make sure not everyone lives forever, and thus overpopulate and destroy the world, time has become the new currency. Starting on a person’s twenty-fifth birthday everyone is given a finite amount of time. A year, if I remember correctly. To get more time, you must work, but in order to purchase anything, you must literally give a bit of your life away. Want a cup of coffee? It will cost five minutes of your life. That is the pretty darn unique premise behind In Time. So it gets points for originality, but is it any good? Well if you have a few minutes of your own life to spare, keep reading and let’s find out.
In Time is the new film by writer/director Andrew Niccol, a man who knows sci-fi well. He wrote The Truman Show, wrote and directed the forgettable S1m0ne, and likewise wrote and directed the very good Gattaca. So while he obviously has a passion sci-fi, it’s not like he’s an impeccable filmmaker. Thankfully, this is one of his better efforts. Not his best, but still pretty good.
The same can be said about singer turned actor Justin Timberlake. I’m neither a fan nor a hater of the former teen heartthrob. While his music does nothing for me, I’ve found his work as an actor passible to fine, and here it is once again fine. The same can be said of most of the actors appearing here, with the one exception being his costar and love interest, Amanda Seyfried. While very lovely and a treat for the eyes, she was very bland and just sort of there.
As for the story it’s a thinly veiled commentary on the state of modern affairs where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Except for In Time, the rich get to live forever as they accumulate millions of years, and the poor live literally day to day, sometimes running out of time and then dying on the spot. As commentary, it’s sadly accurate, but as a movie, is it entertaining? Well it’s not too bad.
Timberlake plays a poor young man named Will who is just three years past the start of his potentially lethal biological clock. Will saves a man with more than a century saved up, but that man has been alive for far longer than that and is just sick of it all. So when Will isn’t looking, the rich man he gives him all his time in a weird form of suicide. This pole-vaults Will to the big time (ha, get it? Get used to it, this movie has a ton of time puns in it) but on the exact same day, his eternally hot twenty-five-year-old mother runs out of time and dies in his arms. This puts the young man on the path of righteous revenge to tear down the entire time-trading and hoarding system. Along the way he meets the daughter of the richest and longest lived man in the city, Amanda Seyfried, and the two become a Bonnie and Clyde and start Robin Hooding all the time from the banks (yes, time is kept in banks) to give it to the poor.
Now if that last sentence sounds a bit cliché ridden, that’s because it is, but then so too is this movie. Therein lies In Time’s biggest failing. Other than an interesting premise, nothing new or noteworthy happens in this film. Oh it’s a perfectly serviceable little slice of sci-fi, and it’s done well, but it’s also the same “fight the power with two young and very pretty people” movie that we’ve seen time and time (ha) again. Hell, it even pays homage – or perhaps rips off – the classics with an overly obsessive police detective right out of Les Miserables. So if you are looking for something completely new, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However if you want and entertaining bit of social commentary with futuristic overtones, In Time might be the movie for you.
As for the Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox, it has the usual amazing picture you come to expect from a modern movie delivered in HD. It is also one of those neat combo packs that come with the DVD and digital copy in addition to the Blu-ray. Unfortunately the special features gathered here are not so special. There is a single 17 minute featurette done mockumentary style and a collection of a few deleted scenes. That’s it, that’s all the time 20th Century Fox could devote to extras on this disc.
In Time has a great idea but a flawed and somewhat mundane execution. It’s a decent enough watch, but I don’t know if anyone would need to watch it more than once. As such, consider this one a rental rather than a purchase.