In Time (2011)
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Star rating aside and this overly negative review past, I will say that I really enjoyed watching In Time. The premise of a world where people have to live, eat and breath based on a banked time limit of 25 years is brilliant and I want this to be a television show to see more of it. The cinematography blew me away with the way the world looked and it felt like an old 60’s Sci-Fi at times when the players were fighting it out in the car chase scenes.
A more appropriate title for this mess of a Science Fiction movie would have been “Robin Hood Does SciFi” as it is essentially the tale of a boy born in the hood who robs the rich to feed the poor. The tale has its own version of a Maid Marian (the royal princess-type who joins Robin in his rogue crusade), an evil Sheriff that hounds the hero and Prince John, the uber rich bad guy who is selfish and heartless.
In Time’s attempt to “stick it to the wealthy 1%” as its underlying theme comes off as a forced agenda hidden beneath a thin veil of mediocrity and well-timed (pun intended) with the whole Occupy Everything going on this year. Science Fiction has always been known as fantasy, neo-futuristic tales with real world issues written into them making for heavy discussion, analysis and if successful, a change in heart for its viewers. While In Time does a very good job of substituting time for money in a world that is very similar way to ours, it loses its audience by ignoring the basic tenets of storytelling and having a headlining actor that isn’t strong enough to carry his own movie.
Justin Timberlake does a decent enough job as Will Salas, with Amanda Seyfried as his pixie sidekick eye candy (every sci-Fi hero has to have a hottie he’s dragging around right?), but due to no explanation into the Will’s history and what I felt was a forced “quickie” romance between he and Sylvia Weis (Seyfried), I was no wiser or compassionate to his goals at the end of the movie than I was at the beginning. I simply couldn’t care any less for these people and it was a movie meant to tug at the heart strings of the audience to say “see, here is a guy from the ghetto who refuses to play the game and is going to save his fellow man!”
More annoying than the lack of character development was the lack of explanation into the world of In Time. Typically in Sci-Fi movies, the narrator explains the time period, the world and the situation, or the dialogue within the movie gets us there eventually. But not In Time, no, I had no idea whether this genetically altered world which freezes your looks (and health) at age 25 was supposed to be earth, a parallel universe or our real future. I really wanted a more thorough explanation into the setting but like the character development, this was deemed unimportant and was sadly overlooked.
There was so much wrong with In Time that the movie simply had no chance. The lack of character development wasted the time of all the talented actors involved and I feel bad for Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. Any other movie… these 2 would have melted the screen with their sex scenes and Amanda’s baby blues… but no, this was a hot mess; we are left clueless as to the two lovers/strangers and their Bonnie and Clyde act running around in a world that seemed like hell.
The one standout in the entire movie for me was the Sheriff of Nottingham character, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy). I am not sure whether it was Cillian’s acting (he always rocks the house), or the character itself but he turned out to be the most well put together player in the entire game since we got some history, learned his motivation and was generally interested in he and his obsession. The same issues that Terminator: Salvation had with a weak lead annoying the audience into wanting more of a side character was evident in In Time.
What Did I Actually Like?
Star rating aside and this overly negative review past, I will say that I really enjoyed watching In Time. The premise of a world where people have to live, eat and breath based on a banked time limit of 25 years is brilliant and I want this to be a television show to see more of it. The cinematography blew me away with the way the world looked and it felt like an old 60’s Sci-Fi at times when the players were fighting it out in the car chase scenes. If my judgment was based on mere eye candy (Olivia Wilde plays Will Salas’s mother), I would have given the movie high marks, I will say that.
If you have a love for Science Fiction and have been spoiled by great story-telling and well flushed out character development you may want to skip In Time. For the lackluster night when you want to check out something new however and you aren’t opposed to conspiracy theory stories, then you may want to give this a watch. While I don’t see myself owning this movie in the future, I will say that I would not be terribly opposed to seeing it again. In Time was written and directed by Andrew Niccol whose past works I have enjoyed.