‘In Time’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated December 12th, 2014 at 9:47 pm,

In Time Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried Review  In Time Review

In Time ends up being a film whose premise will probably get your brain working harder than watching the cliched, undercooked, naive, and sometimes aimless story.

There is one group of people who will look at In Time and see a sci-fi/action movie starring pretty young leads Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. Then there is another group of people who will look at In Time and see the latest intriguing sci-fi/philosophy quandary from writer/director Andrew Niccol, who has produced quality food-for-thought sci-fi concepts in films like Gattaca, and S1m0ne.

So, the question then becomes: which audience will be most rewarded by investing time in this film? The answer in this case is: Neither.

In Time is a film which has a fantastic premise that it is unable to corral into a quality story. The movie chronicles a future where human beings are bio-engineered to live until age 25, and after they cross that marker their time to live is treated as currency, banked by a neon clock tattooed on their forearms. Like currency in the real world, time is earned through working, stealing, or in the case of the wealthy, inheritance. Also like currency in the real world, time is spent on commodities, leisure, or in rare cases of benevolence, donation. The varying amounts of time people possess creates a social hierarchy that mirrors our own: “Time Zones” confine the poor to a ghetto existence where “clock-punched” citizens lie dead in the streets, while the wealthy live on virtually immortal – although tepid and bored in their insulated existence.

Justin Timberlake in In Time In Time Review

Justin Timberlake in ‘In Time’

Enter Will Salas (Timberlake), a factory worker age 28 (or “25 + 3″ as they say), who literally lives a day at a time trying to provide enough hours for himself and his mother (Olivia Wilde) to survive on. One night, while out at the local watering hole with his best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki), Will finds himself in the middle of a situation involving a neighborhood time-bandit, Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), and one Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) – a wealthy man from “New Greenwich” who is brazenly slumming it in the ghetto with more than a century on his clock. When Will saves Hamilton from a grisly fate, the rich man confesses that his will to live has run out well before his physical clock. As a parting gift, Hamilton passes Will a century to spend as he likes.

Will’s change of fate lasts long enough for him to briefly experience the luxury of New Greenwich and gamble his way into an even longer amount of time. He also runs into Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of wealthy time mogul Phillippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser). Sylvia has all the time a person could want, but has not experienced a single day worth living – so naturally she is quickly smitten with Will’s “every second counts” passion for life.

However, the time system that keeps the world going is one that does not favor anomalies. When Will suddenly changes fortunes, it attracts the attention of the “Time Keepers” (cops) – in particular half-century veteran Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), who recognizes in Will the same socialistic streak he saw in Will’s father many decades ago. When the Keepers come to forcibly repo Will’s time, Will is forced to flee with Sylvia as a hostage and the chase ensues.

In Time Timberlake Seyfried Bank Robbery In Time Review

Timberlake and Seyfried play Robin Hood in ‘In Time’

Niccol has a talent for blending sci-fi elements with human drama in order to raise larger philosophical points about our society and/or existence. In Time attempts to follow that trend, only it is unable to synthesize any strong points or conclusions from the socio-economic issues it so clearly (and heavy-handedly) touches on. The idea of time as currency has huge metaphorical and thematic potential, and in the first act it seems as though the film will utilize this potential by exploring issues like what it is to “live” vs. “exist,” and how the investment of time as a life or death matter realigns one’s perceptions of what’s worthwhile, and how to live life. However, once the formulaic action-movie tropes worm their way into the second act, the whole “time is money” metaphor deflates into shallow word substitution.

On the action side of things, In Time has a few cliched chase sequences sprinkled with gunshots, as Will and Sylvia (literally) run aimless circles while trading both heavy-handed and cringe-worthy dialogue. The third act of the film follows the pair on a ridiculous Robin Hood-style crime spree that is meant to be some socio-political statement, but ultimately offers only half-cooked notions about economy and society that even a first-year philosophy major could counter.

While Timberlake actually does well playing a devil-may-care street-punk anti-hero, Seyfried (usually a strong performer) is all rich girl airhead stares, punctuated by moments of unearned (and unconvincing) tough-girl bravado. A lot of what occurs with both the plot and characters during the latter second act and third act feels cobbled together and confused, and sucks whatever momentum the premise had right out of the film. Even Cillain Murphy’s character (including his ties to Will’s father) is only half-explored, and the end of his arc feels wasted and redundant compared to the amount of screen time he eats up.

Cillian Murphy Starring in In Time In Time Review

Cillian Murphy stars in ‘In Time’

Aside from the CGI neon clocks on every ones’ arms and the devices meant to transfer time, even the future in this film feels somehow half-envisioned and unimpressive. Dilapidated working-class locations serve as the “poor zone,” lavish mansion and hotel locations serve as the “rich zone,” with everything in between left unseen and unexplored, in order to paint the flimsy ideas the film raises in the most convincing light possible. No matter which side of town you live on, this future feels like nothing more than a half-dressed version of the present (you think they’d invent a few futuristic things if people could potentially live for centuries in youthful bodies).

Despite a strong start, In Time ends up being a film whose premise will probably get your brain working harder than watching the cliched, undercooked, naive, and sometimes aimless story that Niccol derived from it. Who knows: maybe with enough time someone will turn this idea into some good fan-fiction; in the meantime, think carefully about how much time you’ve got before investing it in this movie.

Check out some footage from In Time below, and rate the movie for yourself in our poll.

[poll id=”210″]

In Time is now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

TAGS: In time
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  1. Could have been excellent. Sadly acting was awful despite strong casting choices. But maybe I am missing something the director was going for… Perhaps a lack of human emotion as a consequence of ‘time is money.’

  2. I actually REALLY enjoyed this movie.

  3. It would have been a lot better if it weren’t entirely cherry picked from Harlan Ellison’s far more well-realized and executed “Repent Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman”. Plagiarism bites film makers in the ass once again. Retreads of far better ideas don’t get you better creations. Pay the writer.

    • Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only person who had read that. The entire movie all I could think about was that short story! I agree, “Repent Harlequin Said the Ticktockman” was far better, even if it did spend an entire long chunk of a run-on sentence talking about jelly beans.

  4. In Time- very disappointing! the movie repeatedly approached the tipping point but the momentum just died before it made the final kill. kul concept, kul cars, but it just didn’t make the cut.

    • I agree!Disappointing indeed.

  5. In Time is definitely more an ideas and food for thought movie than it is an action movie as in that regards it totally bar a scene near the end which made me flashback to Magneto in Xmen First Class for sheer badassness. Justin Timberlake was passable in his role and Amanda Seyfried wasn’t as annoying as she couldve been, Cillian Murphy was cool in terms of attitude if not so much an actual character though I still digged him in the film and it was cool too to see Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men even if his character just felt meh and a real shame that Olivia Wilde wasn’t in the movie more. The worldbuilding and what the cost of time is in everyday living was cool even if the point was pushed too often as if to remind audiences this is a thinking-man’s movie and not a balls-to-the-wall action movie. But too many lapses in plausibility and logic which things lining up in place neatly did somewhat mar thr film and the screenrant podcast did a heckuva job feasting on dem plotholes but still it is a overall decent movie and a 3/5 at that

  6. In time. This was a class film. whoever comaplains bout this dont have a clue when they see a good film :)

    • I couldn’t agree more. I did not even recognize his mom at first in the bus scene, she was such a non-entity at that point. To have her die just as they are about to touch is heart-breakingly hackneyed. I could not help but wonder why no one had invented a way to lock the time “bank” on their arms. Seriously, they engineered a race of people who can only live if they buy time credits, but they can’t figure out a way to protect it except using goons? Ridiculous.

  7. Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood kinda story, without an interesting ending! Totally agree with the review, could have been a great movie, mediocre at best.

    • Simple, elegant, accurate, was your review of this movie

  8. I think, like the one who wrote this review, that the idea of time as currency compensates for the story line. A missed opportunity, but nontheless a nice movie to see. I’d cautiously recommend it :)
    Thx for the review!

  9. i was expecting something like “the island” but in return all i get is a 90 look alike movie. no concept car, no concept houses, no future technology. all they had was forever 25 year old humans (which is not at all lesser but creates a discrepancy)

  10. As much as the movie had its cinematographic setbacks. I think the point was to De-emphasize the focus of the viewers, from the futuristic cars, buildings with massive adverts and cool hi-tech weapons the little kids are really looking forward to seeing, just to say “coooooool!”. the plausibility of the events in that then society can be excused if proper thought is concentrated on the idea and questions the story brings. like what happens after anarchy. what happens when if power which is money in a capitalist economy(or time as in this movies) is shared equally and structure in the society is breached.
    The fact that the movie doesnt really answer the question is a good reason for thought over this subject.

    in all i think the movie is a great one for those (not so simple) people who see beyond the aesthetics and smoke that distracts us from the lesson.

    • I think your comment is more thoughtful than that whole stupid movie.

  11. I was tricked into watching this crap because I thought Mathew Bomer was in it. He was, (for like 5 minutes) ugh. Oversimplified commie ramblings coming from one of the richest entertainers (timberlake) is just hilarious. Stupid movie with a stupid plot, and wasted one of the best looking actors MB by killing him off in beginning. Please can I have my 2 hours back?