Review: In Time

In Time is a return to sci-fi for Andrew Niccol, director of the critically acclaimed Gattaca. The premise of the film is one that has raised an interested eyebrow from people, but can it deliver a gripping story?

It is set in a world where the populous are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25, but can only live one more year unless they can earn time. People are in essence immortal and trade time as currency. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) from a poor background, struggling to make it day by day (literally), is given 100 decades on his clock by a man sick of immortality. As time is not given freely and is kept in check Will is accused of murder and goes on the run.

It is hard to tell whether this film is badly cast or if the characters are just so dreary and void of personality that one lacks any empathy. Justin Timberlake delivers another performance as Justin Timberlake as one of the most generic ‘IT’ actors of the moment. Amanda Seyfried is equally as generic starring opposite Timberlake as his love interest Silvua Weis. But given that a lot of the dialogue exchanges were of poor variety e.g: “don’t go”, “why shouldn’t I go”, “no, you should go” it was hard not to be stilted. Over the film’s duration you realise that it is mostly an exercise to see how many time currency puns or play on words Niccol could fit in to his script.

The set design, whilst understandably trying to be an overall sanitised look, was incredibly lacking in any ideas; signs looking like they had been made in Microsoft Word, Windows 98 edition. It is as if the director was told he had to be so complete generic in the look of everything as to not get sued. A great mark was missed here of fake store chains and brands. But apparently in this world people lack creative spark and have no sense of branding in any form. It just doesn’t work and please stop putting “future cops” in impractical long leather jackets, this is the “cool” future as seen from the 90s.

The nature of everyone being immortally 25 is an interesting concept, but a clearly not 25 looking Cillian Murphy threw me back a bit. I spent most the film wondering whether he was an early prototype of genetic engineering, but came to understanding that again he is another miscast person and was just meant to pass for 25; unless there is some backstory not actually in the film, as there was often at times. Strong emphasis was put on side stories full of meaning but with no information given; Will’s hero father, fighting (time wrestling).. all lead to unanswered questions that were meant to impact on the story. Everyone being 25 also brought a quasi Bugsy Malone effect, where it was hard to take seriously teenage looking gangsters, who resemble a prototype Backstreet Boys; side tilted fedora included.

The premise of the film initially has interesting possibilities and concepts of how people react, given that literally every second is the difference between life and death. The rich take their time and the poor are in a rush to do everything. Unfortunately it runs out of ideas soon after the start and descends in to a very poor man’s Bonnie and Clyde of robberies with minimal stakes. The people in this world are so loosely held together in an invisible understanding of rules, that it is head banging frustrating how it is only the lead characters who seem to realise there is almost zero consequence for any of their actions.

In Time is clearly something produced from an interesting concept, but void of a good coherent plot it ends up being a rather dull watch. (not a pun on time, but probably in an early draft of the script)

Rating: 1.5/5

Reviewer: Dexter Kong
Release Date: 01/11/11 (UK)
Rating: 12A
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy

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