‘In Time’ Review

Published 3 years ago by

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

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)

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TAGS: in time

69 Comments

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  1. Actually this movies premis sounds like it would play better as a series on HBO or Showtime

    • This.

      • I said the samething after the movie. could you imagine the scene where timberlake and wilde are running towards each other, wilde’s time ticking closer and closer to zero, and right as they jump into each others arms, the scene fades to black, tune in next season to see if wilde survived.

  2. this films stil ooksgoo

  3. * looks good

  4. I like ooksgoo better.

    • ROFLMAO.. I was about to post exactly that!

      Let us make “ooksgoo” the word of the day!

      • ooksgoo – a movie that looks good from the trailers but can not be confirmed on whether or not it is a piece of garbage

        Example: Did you see the trailer for Immortals? That movie already ooksgoo.

        Lol. Let’s make ooksgoo a word.

        • Love it. I’m up for spamming the Oxford English Dictionary into next week. If “bridezilla”, “nekkid” and “ZOMG” are considered worthy of inclusion then why not?

          • “Origin: mexicanpoolcleaner” would be worth seeing as well…

  5. Totes accurate. last night the theater was filled with obnoxious people but once the voice over explaining everything kicked in everyone remained silent, which i haven’t seen happen since Inception. Not even going to DARE comparing this to inception (despite the fact that i like Niccol) but it just goes to show you how solid the beginning was and as the literally useless dialogue started to fill the screen, chatter and laughter began to rise. worst part is now i have to spend 11 more dollars to see it again at an earlier showing so all the LOLSTONERS will still be sleeping

  6. The trailer was enough to see this wasnt going to be very good. The review here confirms what I thought it would be.

  7. This movie looked stupid from the first trailer I saw. It just looked like some stupid $ocia[ist Robin Hood BS with a sci-fi “twist.” And from the way you were describing it, I’m surprised by the 2.5 star rating you gave it. It sounded like you were ready to slap a 1.5 star rating to it. Must have been in a good mood right Kofi? lol

  8. I was writing off this movie on the basis of 1) Justin Timberlake’s leading role and 2) Amanda Seyfried’s one-dimensional-looking character, but I gotta say it sounds like a fantastic, very promising premise when you describe the ‘time currency’ scenario they have set up. Which is such a pity because I think the story is worth too much for them to have shoehorned in a cookie-cutter action flick template, which they did anyway.

    I really liked Gattaca, too. If only they’d kept that level of story (and that caliber of acting!) then I think this would’ve been a knockout movie. Pity I won’t be watching it.

  9. Never having paid attention to the trailer, I got hooked on going to this movie by talking to the theater workers the week before. I thought the premise was intriguing. Yes it has very obvious socio-economic overtones. First the ‘ah – okay??’ moments. 1) Johnny Galecki as a drunken, unshaved down and outer. 2) The wife, mother in law and daughter all gorgeous 25 year olds. 3) All of the vintage Lincoln Continentals and Dodge Chargers. I think an overtone that American cars made in the 60s were the best ever, a premise with which I agree. 4) The Dayton references, it really looks like the city of Dayton, OH. One of the hardest hit cities over the past 20 years, having lost more than 50% of its actual population due to factory closings. 5)Lastly – “10 minutes for an hour” – you gotta see the movie to get this one.

    Okay the higher thought. ‘In Time’ is definitely on time. The America of 2011 is a precursor for this type of society. Everything is costing more. Money is shifted to the wealthiest few and yet politicians wishing to join their ranks keep legislating for even more for them. ‘Our time (money) makes us afraid to live.’ – a great insight into that unchecked greed isn’t really healthy for anyone.
    This movie curies several big questions. What would happen if even our existence became a trade-able commodity? It speaks to the immoral practice of companies and people becoming immeasurably wealthy by selling health. Of course doctors, nurses etc should be paid for what they do – but why should insurance companies, drug manufactures and drug salespeople also gain wealth, peddling illness.
    Another big question is the idea of permanent cast systems in America. ‘Some most die, for others to be immortal’ What??!!! This is the ideology that’s paralyzing America today.
    Finally the redeeming part of the movie (and no not the predictable ending) was watching the once ravenous, violent and vicious masses’ reaction once ‘time’ was released. There were no riots, no wars – but instead people moved quietly and orderly to the source of ‘TIME’. Would it be the same if the same amount of time was given away in New Greenwich. Not a great movie but it kept me thinking through out and for me it was the height of art questioning life. Job well done.

    • Really liked what you said, it just goes to show the ideas in this film were there. The premise is well established, and then it’s up to you to use your imagination. But for me the film delivers on ideas and action. Ultimately it’s supposed to be entertainment which this film is.

  10. I went to see this yesterday, and the best part about the film were the Dodge Chargers. How can someone rob a bank, an afluent bank, that easily? And why did the world turn to such a system? Those were the 2 questions that kept popping into my head. The premise was interesting and the film wasn’t all that bad but I was expecting more. This is suppose to be the future; like Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man, “Where are all the phasers?” :-) Because of the interesting philosophical nature of the film, I would give it 3/5.

    • Premise: A future society where the rich/elite are able remain at 25years of age and live forever in the easy life while the remaining peasant/serf class struggles to get by with literal time being the currency by which commerce is engaged and when you run out of time you drop dead.

      The story’s anti-hero is able to score a century of time, what I would guess would be the equivalent of winning the biggest lottery ever (say a billion dollars) and is able to transcend from the slums to the world of the famous and elite. Soon he becomes disgusted with what he finds and along with another anti-heroine he goes on a theft spree to give away to the poor that which the elite have held captive for years, perhaps longer.

      Now that to me sounds like a fantasy film turned horror film for a global elitist. I’d bet that the Rothschilds and similar elite families fantasize about this kind of future.

      • Yes, because ONLY the mega rich would fantasize about immortality, of course.

        Vic

        • @Vic

          I wouldn’t say only the rich would fantasize about being immortal but they certainly would fantasize about a future where the wealthy elite can live at 25 years forever and still manage control over the rest of society treating them like serfs albeit 25year old serfs.

          That said, would you really want to be immortal? I’m all for a much longer life span, say a thousand years or so like is speculated in early biblical times but immortal? Naaa. Its death that makes life, alive.

    • I think the movie made it clear why the public accepted such a scheme. Suppose people were told “You work for a year and then you get to live for two” and then everybody would be immortal. But then the raised the cost of living. Why? Because if everybody lived forever then there wouldn’t be enough room for everybody.

      Well there’s some problems with that theory: first of all, if you can live forever does that mean you don’t have to eat anymore? Perhaps they found a way to make everyone immortal but then nobody would work and nothing would get done. But what needs to get done if nobody needs to eat? Do we need farms, grocery stores or restaurants? Presumably everybody works in factories so bored rich people can have laptops and iPads. (They literally have a lot of time on their hands.)

      I wonder why anybody in such a world would have kids. I mean, it would cost time to raise a child and most people wouldn’t live long enough to see their kids grow up. That seems a bit pointless. Poor people should be dying in droves with no children to replace them while the rich live forever along with their parents and children. Soon the 1% will be the 99%. I can only assume that when everybody agreed to the plan that there was going to be enough time for everybody but then people started having kids and grandkids and they raised the cost of living because the ghettos were getting too crowded.

      It takes a while to see how such a world could come about but if you can accept that it could then the premise does work. Logan’s Run had a similar premise: in that story everyone had to die at 30. That also seems to be a bit young: again, you don’t get to see your kids grow up.

      We face an inevitable future: eventually people in even the poorest of countries are going to realize that having more than two children (assuming they can survive to adulthood) is suicide: right now we have barely enough food to feed seven billion people. What if we had seven billion more? Well, for one thing, we would have to get rid of all the organic farms and replace them with farms growing genetically modified food. We would have no choice but to grow as much food as we could so as to feed the multitude or else face riots. That’s the perfect analogy right there: people are eating organically grown food thinking that it is healthier and making people live longer while people in Africa starve to death for lack of food. So I guess the movie is about the real world after all.

      Anyway, I’m an optimist. We will soon reach a critical point where we will have no choice but to reach equilibrium or perish. The 99% are wasting their time protesting because the 1% aren’t stupid: they know that the poor people of the world are going to keep having babies and the more of them there are the more they are going to complain that such a small percentage of the population has most of the wealth. The 1% are trying to hold onto what they have for as long as they can but we’re going to come to a point where there won’t be enough to go around. The rich people of the world really are trying to buy time for themselves.

  11. VERY POOR CONCEPT. IM SURPRISED IT GOT MADE!IT JUST FAILS IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS!! NOT UNLESS THEY’RE ALL ROBOTS OR SOMETHING IS PLANTED IN THEIR BODYS THAT DETONATES OR EXPIRES WHEN TIME RUNS OUT. OTHER THAN ITS STUPID!

    • OMG IS YOUR CAPSLOCK BUTTON BROKEN TOO?

  12. As a huge science-fiction reader and movie goer, I did not find the concept overall convincing. Its cool that Hollywood is doing something more original, but I think the story and plot device needs more tweaking. I would love to see how a 1980s and 1990s director and screen writer would have approached this movie. Movies created before the year 2000 were more inventive, fun, and loose.

    • >Not original.
      Check out The Price of Life (http://vimeo.com/16265933)
      This makes me sad, I saw it yesterday and now I find out it wasn’t even original.

  13. I watched the movie today. I feel the movie was trying to convey how wealth and life can be controlled by the elite and how they can manipulate time/money so that the wealth and power stays with them and life gets to be enjoyed only by them. I totally agree that the plot needs improvement. The idea is there, but it is somehow lacking. Bottomline, every one is a slave to the system.

  14. Sorry for the duplicate posts. Had an error displayed when i posted via iPhone.

  15. Biggest fail (and glaring logic hole) for me is, if they have the tech to attach a time limit to your life and transferring it others, then they most assuredly have the ability to clone people. So you just have farms of comatose clones and drain off their life energy, viola! nearly limitless life for the masses.

    • Actually there was one big inconsistency in the movie: we were told that the clock started when they were 25 so why did the new born baby have a clock on its arm and why was the little girl begging for time?

  16. Agreed, Kofi.

    And “ooksgoo” is most definitely being added to my vocabulary, lol…

  17. Welp, guess im the “1%”. I really enjoyed it.

    • Make that the 2%. I thought it was really good!

  18. I enjoyed it. I mean, its not supposed to be an encyclopedia on social inequity. its a bleeping movie for cyring out loud. I was impressed by everyone’s performance. There are parts that could have been done better or explored in better detail, but it would have made a much longer movie. These kinds of movies do not offer solutions, so it is discriminating to expect them to. They merely point out the problem. The film is not overly cliche with its “time” puns. I’ve seen very bad movies that pun everything and this movie does it just a few times, and not gratuitously.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth. I walked away from the movie connecting events in the movie to what happens everyday. I think that was the whole idea and for that it’s worth seeing. It’s a whole lot better than watching some piss poor remake from my childhood. It was different and I liked that. Also, don’t judge a movie by someone elses opinion or some 30 sec preview. Most of the negative comments cam
      e from people who haven’t seen it. Form your own opinion then judge.

      • No thank you, I will stick with forming my opinion based on the trailer and reviews. Using your logic, there would be no need for review sites or sneak peeks – we should just blindly get in line and dole out the bucks. lol

  19. The only thing I didn’t get was If they travel through parts of what were Los angeles, or cities, and did sylias dad own the whole system? And do you guys think they are going to make another one…

  20. It’s a nice film, I completely take the point that its a touch heavy handed, but it’s unfair to say that “it offers only half-cooked notions about economy and society that even a first-year philosophy major could counter”. It’s an action adventure, it’s a blockbuster, sometimes it’s nice to watch a film on a Friday night that doesn’t require a year in philosophy. Everyone went mad over Inception because people mistook complexity for depth, this film has exactly the same ideas:action ratio, and should be judged similarly.

    • I totally agree. It’s hard enough for original movies to get the green light nowadays and when they do it gets ripped apart for not being enough. It was thought provoking and fun. I liked it a lot.

  21. I’m not surprised by this review (it’s very good btw) I could pretty much tell all of this from the trailer. Unbelivably interesting premise but then it goes on to look like an everyday action movie, only without any new interesting action sequences. Nope, I don’t think I’ll be spending any money on this.

  22. Logan’s Run-ish? I’ll skip the high price theater ticket and rent this. Sounds like a solid renter.

    • Most libraries “rent” DVD’s (new releases too) overnight for free. :)

  23. I think I’m going to check this out this Tuesday, all movies are $5 so it should be worth that. Plus despite the bad review I think it has some potential and going by the comments of people on here who actually seen the movie, I think I will enjoy it.

  24. Saw this Saturday, enjoyed it thoroughly. It does ralet to today with the ruling rich controlling the masses by raising prices and exploiting the market. Scary, really.

    Timberlake was fine in the part, did a good job showing the required emotions in his scenes.

  25. Original story? Here we go, let me describe it:

    *takes deep breath*

    Sci-fi Robin Hood.

    *phew* had to catch my breath on that one… :-D

  26. Are there ever any original ideas? We have been making movies for a long time. I do feel some very good books are getting neglected as inspirations though.

    • You know, the story doesn’t have to be completely original for the sake of being original. Retelling some familiar tales in a creative way can be done well. The problem with me here is that I’ve never been a fan of the whole Robin Hood tale. I think it’s a ridiculous, childish, naive, and idealistic story that doesn’t really work in the real world. Then add Justin Timberlake as the starring role, plus I was also never a fan of Amanda Seyfried, and you have a movie that I simply laugh at when I see the previews…

  27. I went watch this movie this past weekend and left when it was half way over. Sorry but Justin Timberlake sucks as an actor, s real actor should have played his part. He ruined the movie for me, real corny…

  28. I believe this is based on a Larry Niven story about a world where time is money, literally, and a salesman wakes up from a night of partying to find he has blown almost his whole life away. He has to get some time or he will die.

  29. Saw the movie today. I give it 3/5 stars since it
    runs out of steam towards the end. Here are a couple
    of problems. If wearing your time on your sleeve is
    akin to carring cash unfettered, then it leaves a
    society where anyone can steal or kill another just
    with a touch. An unlikely situation. At least a passcode
    would be built in. The movie did make me think a bit
    about how precious our individual time is and how freeing
    it would be to know you have say a 1000 years to live. Or if
    you only had a day on your clock.