IN TIME Movie Review
Scrawled across the sidewalk, as I walked out of the theater, was the phrase “love is the only way in the world to keep you alive!” This, among other things, is one of the many underlying themes of Andrew Niccol’s (Lord of War, The Truman Show) newest film “In Time.”
Unfortunately, the phrase I walked by was probably more effective than the 115-minute film I’d just seen.
“In Time,” is the sci-fi action thriller set in the unknown, but seemingly retro, future, where people no longer age. Instead, they have the amount of time they’ll live stamped on their wrist ticking away until their death. Everything in life costs minutes and seconds instead of dollars and pennies. Time has become currency, where the rich can live forever, and the poor must beg, borrow, and steal for more time on Earth.
Survival of the fittest.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is one of the poor men that literally lives day-to-day. Through a series of events, he sets out on a Robin Hood-like adventure to give back to the poor, running from thieving gangs and corrupt government officials. By his side is the rich, but naive, Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried). Together, they must out-smart and out-steal the rich in order to survive.
At the core, “In Time,” has a refreshingly poignant concept. The idea of time as currency is both new and interesting; it tries to appeal as both “cool” and “intriguing.”
However, the cool concept doesn’t make up for the poor execution. Throwing out the unbelievability (which shouldn’t be a problem for anybody that knows the basic plot beforehand), and you are still left with too many poorly executed run-and-gun, race against the clock type scenes. Most of these aforementioned moments involve poorly versed quips by Justin Timberlake.
When it sticks to the “time as currency” bit, “In Time,” shines, making the first 30 minutes the highlight of the film. But, when it puts Will and Sylvia’s relationship in the spotlight, it tends to sputter. Their relationship doesn’t seem very real, or exciting for that matter. I had a hard time understanding if their relationship, or perhaps something else, was the main motive of the film.
It could be about the importance of love, the need to help the less fortunate, or the overregulation of government. Though it’d be a lofty goal to simultaneously incorporate these themes, Niccol tries this risky strategy. Ultimately, it just doesn’t work. Too much time is spent forcing it down the audience’s throat, which is not why people go to the movies.
With an appealing cast, which besides Timberlake and Seyfriend, consists of Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, and Vincent Kartheiser, I really wanted to enjoy the movie. And, their performances weren’t half bad either. Justin Timberlake has made the leap from radio to television, but never as a leading man. He didn’t disappoint, but he didn’t dazzle either. That seems to be a problem in the movie; nowhere does it jump from the depths of cheap sci-fi to the likes of great action. No one character, performance, or scene jumps out at you as “cool, nor “intriguing,” like it should.
Stepping back a bit, that doesn’t make this film utterly terrible either. It’s worth giving credit where it is due. Except for a few mistimed and cliché lines, the screenplay was fairly decent. Sure, there were a few too many cheap, funny lines, but that’s obviously not my biggest problem with the movie. All in all, the cast did what they could with what they were given.
The movie’s setting is fun, too. The retro futuristic feel makes it almost seem like it would be a cool place to live. Until, of course, you realize that you’d probably be living your life day-to-day, like the rest of the 99%.
All in all, I wouldn’t say it is the worst movie to hit theaters. There are plenty of overdone genre-stricken movies out there. At the same time, don’t expect to be shocked by a concept that has the potential to be mind-blowing. It starts out good, but sputters and lags its way to the end credits, making it unfortunately decent.
With plenty of good movies in theaters, be warned this isn’t the best option available.