In an alternate future created by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), it’s possible that you can look like you’re 25 for the rest of your life—but the rest of your life might only mean one more year, unless you can earn yourself more time on the working digital watch under your skin. They say “time is money” and it actually is money in this new world, where the rich live longer and the poor struggle to find that time. It’s a strange and corrupt system, and someone is going to take it down.
The slick and stylish feature In Time follows two people on the run, from opposite ends of the social and class spectrum, as they defy the clock as their way of living. It starts when factory worker Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is wrongly accused of murdering a century-old man, who in actuality gave Will his time to let himself die. While hiding from law enforcement, Will starts living the life of the wealthy, and finds himself in a gambling hall with power broker Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser). But when head honcho Timekeeper Leon (Cillian Murphy) hunts him down, Will takes Philippe’s daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) hostage until his demands are met. Sylvia soon learns what it’s like to live with little time, but with full experiences and emotions, and she becomes Will’s partner in dismantling the system, thus also landing in trouble with authorities. In addition to the everyday ordeals and landing on the Wanted list, Will and Sylvia must run from Fortis (Alex Pettyfer) and his Minutemen, a notorious gang whose purpose is to terrorize others for their time. Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, and Johnny Galecki round out the unfairly and ridiculously beautiful cast.
That’s going to kick off the first talking point: The cast is very, very lovely on the eyes, also the clothes they’re wearing. The costume designer and department deserves cupcakes. But beyond that, the sets capture the painful contrasts of “time zones” as they’re known—the gritty slums of Will’s district Dayton and both modern and classical sophistication of the Weis family’s North Greenwich (They have a beach in their backyard. A beach.). The fight and action sequences are well-executed and deliver an adrenaline rush and even panic at key moments. Worth mentioning that the cinematographer is Roger Deakins, who can now say he has shot a film digitally with this piece in his long and accomplished career.
Though In Time is enjoyable and intriguing all the way through, as well as a tad bit more than respectable for a film in its genre, the lack of character development and uncalled-for cheesiness holds it back from being truly great. Sylvia’s three or four one-liners add humor to the mix, the kind that will set off an eye roll reaction. But more eye roll-worthy is how forced the romance between her and Will is. We know—you’re both hot, but how obvious is it from the way they steal glances at each other at the beginning that they would also be sickeningly mushy? However, “sickeningly mushy” may be tolerable if Timberlake and Seyfried made for more convincing leads and a more compatible screen couple. Timberlake is good in performing action and there’s a surprising joy in seeing him kick the bad guys’ asses, but performances where he has to be emotional come across as wooden. Seyfried, despite being one of my favored people in Hollywood today, unfortunately comes off the same way in her role, except not knowing how to initially handle a gun (Which did make for some genuine laugh-out-loud moments). They both have their talents, but there is a lack of command in their individual and combined presences as the top-billed actors. If anyone’s actual acting was a standout, it would be Pettyfer’s, for being menacing without even trying.
Luckily, this isn’t an actor’s movie—In Time is simply an audience’s feast, to fulfill the natural need to view guns in heavy use, car chases, and pretty people being badass. The “time is money” idea will certainly pique interests and is something to think about. If you’re looking for something fun to watch and requires 95 percent of your attention instead of 100, this is the movie to see. Simply deposit 100 minutes from whatever time you have left.