Review: In Time


Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Written by:Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettfyer, Olivia Wilde, Vincent Kartheiser
Released: October 27, 2011
Grade: C

In Time is set is some bizarre parallel universe where “time is money”.  Instead of receiving cash for putting in a hard day’s work, you receive time.  Your running balance appears on your arm in neon lights – kind of like an inbuilt watch.  Should it ever reach 0:00:00, you’re life will come to an abrupt end.  There’s no chance of declaring bankruptcy and starting again.

The film’s production notes suggest the film is set in the “future” but I’m not sure how this is the case.  Many of the buildings, roads and infrastructure look like something from today.  It’s only the cars that look slightly different.  The point I’m trying to make is that this is a really difficult concept to invest in.  Writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) provides no background information as to how our world got itself into this position.

The film’s overarching premise is that a select group of people have transformed time into a commodity for their own advantage.  Poor people never have more than a day or two on their clock and so must continually work like slaves to prolong their life.  Alternatively, the wealthy live like royalty with more than a century up their sleeve.  I’m sure Kim Jong-il will investigate the concept when he checks out a bootleg copy of the film.

Again, how did this happen?  How did humans suddenly find themselves with green numbers glowing on their arms?  How did we end up in a cashless society?  How did those at the top manage to get there?  How did this system get introduced around the entire planet?  Not even Bill O’Reilly from Fox News would have endorsed this!

There are a few other odd quirks as well.  For starters, no one ever looks older than 25.  They’ve tapped into some chromosome to stop the aging process and this has created the potential to live forever.  I should also mention the odd way in which people exchange time.  You grab the arm of the other person and then watch your clock go up/down whilst a strange whooshing sound can be heard.

Even if you can get past the plot holes (and that’s a big IF), you’ll still be bored by this standard action-thriller.  There's very little to get the heart pumping.  28-year-old Will Salas (Timberlake) comes from a poor neighbourhood and is struggling to get by.  In a bar one evening, he meets a 105-year-old guy who has simply had enough.  He gives Will his remaining time (more than 100 years) and then jumps off a bridge.

Blessed with more time than he could ever imagine, Will decides it’s time to “change the system”.  It seems that 1% of the world controls a disproportion share of the wealth.  Instead of participating in an Occupy Wall Street march, Will partners up with the daughter (Seyfried) of an affluent businessman (Kartheiser) and together, they try to steal enough time to be distributed to the masses.  Both are being chased however by a timekeeper (Murphy) looking to ensure that order is maintained.

There are a gazillion references to time and how precious it can be.  That message comes through loud and clear.  I’m not that sure what to make of the ending however.  With several storylines not wrapped up satisfactorily (such as that of Will’s father), I think many will leave the cinema disappointed.

On paper, In Time looked interesting.  The writer of Gattaca and The Truman Show teaming up with rising stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in a thriller that makes us think outside the square.  Sadly, I must report that the finished product is a waste of your time.  If you think that reference is lame, wait until you hear some of the others in the film.