In Time (2011)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 67%
Overall Rating
Ranked #338
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 12, 2011
As a gay man, it's difficult to dislike "In Time": Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer. As a movie-lovers, it's difficult to condone "In Time" as anything other than badly executed sci-fi schlock. And that is, alas, what the film is - a failed attempt at social commentary packaged in a way that might make it seem slightly more engaging than it actually is. Andrew Niccol has given us better work as a writer and director with everything from the underrated "Gattaca" to the dazzling script for "The Truman Show". "In Time" is his weakest effort to date and a sterling reminder that an interesting premise does not a solid piece of cinema make.

The Premise: In the future, time is money - literally. People have clocks that trigger when they turn 25. Time is the new currency and you earn more time at your job. If you run out of time, you die. No one ages past 25 so wives and daughters look virtually identical. And there is a huge disparity between the rich and poor - some people have millions of hours of time and some live day to day, second to second. Throughout this entire society, however, the one thing this society of the future does have is cell phones. But we'll get back to that.

In a role beyond his depth and scope, Justin Timberlake stars Will Salas. One evening he meets a wealthy man named Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) who ends up giving Will all of his time - more time than anyone like Will should have. This takes Will to one of the wealthier zones where he meets the uber-rich Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Will ends up kidnapping Sylvia and holding her for ransom while being chased by a 'time cop' played by Cillian Murphy. Confused yet? There is also a band of thugs stealing time and their leader is played by Alex Pettyfer. Now? OK - well, there is also the Johnny Galecki character who is only in the film long enough to establish...well...nothing. He has no reason for being there.

This film just doesn't work. We never once believe the urgency in any of these situations. Many of the scenes here and unintentionally laughable. I know the death of Timberlake's mother is supposed to be sad and tragic but I was giggling under my breath because it was so melodramatic and so overblown. Why in the world would anyone let their time get that low when it was a matter of life and death. Basically, according to this script, her character died because she wanted to give her son a decent lunch? Come on. And once the film kicks into 'action mode', we lose all sympathy for the main characters. Why? Because they are doing things that could conceivably bring about the deaths of other people. It's difficult to feel sympathy for cold-blooded killers.

The best thing the film has going for it is Roger Deakins shooting it. And he does an interesting job, though I will say it falls into his minor work. He paints a nice contrast between the richer areas of town and the more impoverished areas but the film, at times, looks kind of generic. And most of the performances are generic, as well. Timberlake is not strong enough for this role and Cillian Murphy seems to be phoning this entire performance in. He doesn't seem to believe a single thing he is doing here and who can blame him? And who could ever buy Cillian Murphy as a 25-year-old? They didn't even try to make him look younger.

And that brings me to my final complaint. I understand the plot of the film is that no one ages past 25, but that gets old real quick. We get tired of looking at the same age people over and over again. We need diversity to engage us and we get none of that. Plot or not, it doesn't work. And I blame writer/director Andrew Niccol for all of what doesn't work here. Good sci-fi is not easy to do - Niccol knows first hand because he has, in the past, produced solid sci-fi. In the hands of someone like Stanley Kubrick, "In Time" might have been a masterpiece. In the hands of Niccol, it's a big, fat dud all the more tragic because the story had promise. Not only did I dislike this film, it will likely find its way into my list of the worst films of the year. 2/10.
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