The increasingly popular ‘actor’ Justin Timberlake graces our screens once again this week, taking the lead in the dystopian thriller, In Time. However, is the singer turned movie star’s latest film worth the price of admission or will you be left robbed off the past two hours of your time? (See what I did there?)
The premise of the film is as follows; by the year 2161, genetic alteration has stopped the human race physically ageing past 25 years and as such additional time is needed to extend an individual’s life. As a consequence time becomes the standard currency, with the resulting social hierarchy governed by age. In the lower dregs of society, the time in the day takes a whole new importance with a cup of coffee now costing two hours of your life. Timberlake plays one such victim of this social divide, playing Will Salas, our blue collar protagonist who wakes up every day with just a few hours left on his biological clock. However, his life is drastically changed one day after a chance encounter with White Collar’s Matt Bomer who entrusts Will with an entire century, making sure to instruct our hero to not waste this precious time. What ensues is a collaboration of several genres ranging from sci-fi to crime as Salas plays Robin Hood, taking it upon himself to revolutionise the elitist system.
I’m going to warn you from the offing that In Time is no Bladerunner, far from it, as there are very few positive remarks to be made about the movie. In Time is nevertheless centred on a great science fiction premise, situating the central characters in a darker capitalist version of Logan’s Run, the divide created by the distribution of wealth arguably being used as an allegory for the flaws in our current capitalist system, making the film very topical indeed.
Oh, and the it features Cillian Murphy.
Sadly that’s really all you can say about the good points of the film, as In Time suffers from several fundamental problems. Timberlake and Seyfried take centre stage, however, there’s a lack of any real chemistry between the pair. Seyfried in particular delivers an incredibly wooden performance, whereas Timberlake just manages to adequately pass as a believable hero despite having to work with some truly dreadful dialogue. The supporting cast of characters are highly undeveloped, certainly some more screen time for Murphy’s dogmatic Time Keeper or Alex Pettyfer’s psychotic Minutemen (yes, time is very much a theme here) would have brought a greater dynamic to the film. Instead we are treated to two hours of the incredibly average Salas whose back story is more than a little weak; the narrative desperately tries to allude to something more in his troubled past without adding anything significant to the storyline.
In Time is very much a film that had great potential but is poorly executed. Director Andrew Niccol butchers this Phillip K. Dick style plot choosing to sideline the fantastic premise for an ill-judged attempt at making an action film, a marriage of two concepts that really doesn’t succeed.