In Time comes directed, written and produced by Andrew Niccol, author who boasts a short, but sweet filmography listing mostly science fiction movies (screenwriter of The Truman Show, director of Gattaca and S1mone). Moreover, Andrew Niccol is a director with ideas - whatever else, his movies make you think and this movie is no exception. However, unlike the aforementioned films, with In Time he ventures more in the direction of action movie. The end product is a fairly decent film, but unfortunately (sigh!) it also leaves much to be wished for.
Review by Wasa and SAndman
October 27, 2012
Director: Andrew Niccol
Justin Timberlake as Will Salas
Amanda Seyfried as Sylvia Weis
Cillian Murphy as Timekeeper Raymond León
Vincent Kartheiser as Philippe Weis
Olivia Wilde as Rachel Salas
Alex Pettyfer as Fortis
Henry Hamilton: For few to be immortal, many must die.
The plot depicts a dystopian society sometime in the 22nd century
where everyone is young. People are genetically engineered to stop
aging at 25. The catch is, after they hit that mark, their built-in
biological clock starts ticking and they have just one more year before
it stops for good.
To postpone this unfortunate event they have to constantly recharge it. The glowing, fluorescent green digital watch displayed on their left forearm serves as a faithful reminder that is hard to ignore. If the watch shows zero, the person's time has run out and he/ she dies instantly.
The poor live in a ghetto located in Dayton. To say they are hard-pressed to stay alive would be putting it mildly. Not only do they have to work hard to extend their short lifespan but they also have to spend what time they earn on food and other necessities since the sole currency in this brave new world is, of course, time.
Hoping to win some extra hours some of them will engage in a peculiar form of arm wrestling, which usually ends up with one of the contestants being stripped of all his remaining time, or a poker with pretty much the same end result. Generally, living fast is their signature mark. They walk fast, they eat fast and don't sleep in.
Several "time zones" away lies a beautiful New Greenwich, city of the ultimate rich who have so match time on their hands that they can live forever.
These two crowds, poor and rich seldom mix; the former cannot afford a trip to the city and the latter don't dare to risk their lives in Dayton. So it is easy for Will Wallace, a factory worker in ghetto, to spot a man who doesn't belong. When he saves the rich and suicidal Henry Hamilton from local criminals, Hamilton bestows upon him a shocking truth and a precious gift of more than 100 years.
Soon afterwards his mother times out and Wallace leaves the ghetto with the determination to correct the injustice and bring balance to the world. On this path, among others, he will meet the daughter of richest man on the planet Sylvia Weis, who is eager to live out some of her dormant criminal talents and the obsessive, driven Timekeeper Raymond Leon, a law enforcement office with a dark secret of his own.
Director couldn't have picked a better name for In Time: one of the meanings of the phrase "in time" being "before a time limit expires" and the other "within an indefinite time, eventually", as The Free Dictionary defines it. This ambiguity lends itself perfectly to the jargon in the movie, which is full of dialogs packed with references to time. The effect is at once surreal and poignant.
On the flip side, the central premise is not fully exploited. Basically, after an intriguing exposition you soon catch yourself watching an action movie by the numbers as the plot which revolves around a man chase unfolds to its predictable ending.
The main actors, Timberlake and Seyfried, are reasonably believable in their roles as Will Salas and Sylvia Weis - with a side note to all directors-to-be out there; please never ever ask Timberlake to cry in your movie! - though I personally find the supporting characters much more engaging and memorable.
Cillian Murphy plays a driven timekeeper and, although he doesn't have much of the screen time, he steals every scene he is in. Vincent Kartheiser as Philippe Weis does an excellent job of portraying an aged wealthy man behind a young facade. Pettyfer plays a time thief whose ruthlessness match his good looks.
All in all, In Time is a science fiction thriller based on a really fresh and engaging idea. Sadly it remained undeveloped under all-too-familiar action material, which sucks all the drama and emotional intensity out of the plot. Add characters which pine for depth and despite the bold premise you end up with a fairly enjoyable though somewhat vapid movie.
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