In Time

In Time

*1/2

Reviewed by: Donald Munro

In Time could have been a good movie. It has a strong central idea that is let down by the unimaginative use of near-future science fiction film cliche - big boots and leather trench coats; big guns and off the shelf bad guys.

The central idea is that once a person reaches 25 years old they stop ageing. After that, every minute they live is treated as currency. Everything is bought and sold with a portion of a person's lifetime. This works as a simple metaphor for the problems with laissez-faire capitalism. Unfortunately very few of the implications of the idea are explored.

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The Faustian bargains of life for possessions, life for knowledge and life for more life could have played out in a challenging and disturbing film. But rather than showing a dystopian capitalist hell, rather than provoking thought and a revaluation of the system by the audience, the film does nothing. It plays like late Eighties sci-fi, jumping on the cyberpunk bandwagon after the mirrorshades have left. I wonder what a proper SF writer like Harlan Ellison could have done with an idea like that, maybe write a story like "Repent, Harlequin!" Said The Ticktockman.

In a retro penthouse-and-pavement plot, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), through a quirk of fate, is catapulted into the upper echelons of society. He falls for Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried). After a short infatuation, he is expelled from his new-found world. With two hours left on his clock, he doesn't go quietly. The kidnapping of Sylvia, gunfights and car chases ensue. The pair battle low-life scum and the agents of authority lead by Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy). So without a thought for originality, a machine shop worker and Patty Hearst rob a bank, smash the megacorps and save the entire planet.

As Will and Sylvia are never going to succumb to mortal danger - the plotting isn't inventive enough to allow that - the film hangs on Timberlake and Seyfried's performances and on the action sequences. The acting is more than passable but not brilliant. You can't really care about them. The action sequences also aren't anything to write home about.

Beyond that there isn't much else to this. It's a shallow, stagnant film that whiffs of plagiarism.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2011
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In Time packshot
Money is time in a corrupt future.
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Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Shyloh Oostwald, Johnny Galecki, Colin McGurk, Will Harris

Year: 2011

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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