In Time is a movie that had so much but squandered a great idea with a half-baked screenplay, thinly written characters and a plot that is more in line with a Bonnie & Clyde/Robin Hood story than anything else. Justin Timberlake isn’t bad as the main lead while Amanda Seyfried looks good but her character isn’t fully developed.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller
Fox | PG13 – 109 min. – $39.99 | January 31, 2012
Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Writer(s): Andrew Niccol (written by)
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer
Theatrical Release Date: October 28, 2011
Features: Featurette, Deleted/Extended Scenes, BD-Live, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 36.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Note: This review contains spoilers.
“Live forever or die trying.”
Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi thriller, In Time is a conundrum of a film because the concept is interesting but the execution wasn’t the best and there was some missing ingredient in the screenplay. When the movie was over, it was more frustration than satisfaction. Instead of innovative science fiction it was some strange incarnation of Bonnie & Clyde.
The movie is set in the year 2061, in a world where time is the currency and aging genetically stops at 25 where people are then need to earn time to stay alive. The time is kept via a neon countdown timer on people’s left arm and using scanners, is used to buy coffee or get paid doing a hard day’s labor, often getting screwed as each new day costs go up while pay declines.
There are different segments of society, one where people live hour by hour while another, the wealthy have years on their life. The story centers on one of the poor, Will Salas (JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE) who works at a plant that manufactures devices that stores time (oh the irony). He lives at home, in the ghetto, with his mother (OLIVIA WILDE) who celebrates her 25th birthday for the third time.
After work, Will sits down with buddy Borel (JOHNNY GALECKI) at a bar when they notice a man in a nice suit flashing his time and buying drinks for a couple beauties. Soon this attracts the attention of a mob gang named the Minutemen (get it?) led by Fortis (ALEX PETTYFER), an old gangster who go around terrorizing the locals and taking whatever time they have left. For reasons unknown to Borel or even Will, Will steps in to help this man, named Henry Hamilton (MATT BOMER), who seems to have some kind of death wish wanting to take on the gang. The pair manages to escape into an abandoned building and wait for the coast to be clear. During this time they talk when Will discovers that Henry has basically forever to live and is in fact 105 years old but is tired of living. In the morning, Henry wakes up and gives all but 5 minutes of his life (116 years to be exact) to Will and leaves for a bridge to live out his remaining life, much to Will’s dismay.
There’s an investigation into Hamilton’s death, led by a police force called Timekeepers and the case led by Raymond Leon (CILLIAN MURPHY) a man who I think took his wardrobe inspiration from Equilibrium. He can’t believe somebody with so much time would merely give it away and believes Hamilton was murdered. A road security camera catches the image of Will and now Leon has a suspect.
Meanwhile, Will now has over a century so he spreads it around first to bud Borel then for his mother. However, due to the rising costs of a bus ride (2 hours), she doesn’t have enough time to ride and meet Will at a bus stop and thus needs to run to the stop which is, coincidentally, two hours away. Waiting there, Will finds she’s not on the bus and realizes she’s in trouble and starts running in her direction where the pair meets in the middle… but it’s too late and her time runs out. Now overcome with grief, Will vows revenge and takes a trip to the wealthy time zone of New Greenwich (it takes years off just to get through each checkpoint).
In New Greenwich he runs old time millionaire Philippe Weiss (VINCENT KARTHEISER) whom Will plays a game of poker in a show of guts which impresses Weiss and his beautiful daughter, Sylvia (AMANDA SEYFRIED). Weiss invites Will to a soiree at his mansion where it’s obvious Sylvia has a fascination with Will seeing something different in him compared to the rest. At the party, the pair takes a swim in the ocean which she had never done because time is valuable and risk taking isn’t exactly prominent. After the swim, they return to the party when Leon, via detective work, tracks Will down and arrests him taking all of his time away save for 2 hours, enough time for booking. But before he’s taken in, he kidnaps Sylvia and makes the great escape with Leon giving chase.
That’s the basic premise with Will and Sylvia, who eventually deliberately joins Will in his life on the run as they not only must stay ahead of the law but get more time as each of theirs runs out (earlier, the minuteman gang manage to steal a good chunk of hers). They go on a Bonnie & Clyde like crime spree robbing time banks, taking some for them and giving the rest to others in the downtrodden area in Will’s neighborhood.
In Time is actually an entertaining sci-fi flick and yet when it was all over I felt cheated and even frustrated by the fact that the concept is fantastic but the execution was, at best, lacking. This comes as a surprise because the film was written and directed by Andrew Niccol who has helmed some great or at the very least impressive films like Lord of War (which I wasn’t wild about but had its moments), The Truman Show and his best, Gattaca. I think I was expecting a bit of the drama of Gattaca in this film yet it comes across more like Gattaca-lite or a CW show.
Mind you, this isn’t a criticism of the cast since the premise is there is nobody who looks older than 25 (albeit actors like Matt Bomer are pushing it) so you’re going to get an almost CW like feel to the movie. First, I must admit that I like Justin Timberlake and have enjoyed a few of his performances thus far, most recently Friends with Benefits. This isn’t a rich character as Will is more or less Robin Hood with a bit of Clyde.
The rest of the cast are pretty unremarkable. Amanda Seyfried has seen her star rise with solid performances in otherwise dull/average flicks like Jennifer’s Body, Red Riding Hood and Chloe, the latter probably her best performance. For In Time, she probably suffers the most as her character had potential but like the script, doesn’t amount to much more than a Bonnie clone, trigger-happy finger and all. I suppose she does OK with what she had but it’s nothing special. Same goes for Cillian Murphy who has certainly been better in other movies (28 Days Later, Breakfast on Pluto and even Red Eye) but again, there was something more to his character but it doesn’t amount to anything in the end.
As I was saying before, In Time had a lot going for it. Lots of big ideas and plenty of potential to easily make this a 4-4.5 star movie but thanks to an unfulfilling screenplay that devolves into a romanticized Bonnie & Clyde intermixed with a Robin Hood plotline, it merely relegates the movie to “pretty good” status, but even then it’s maddening to know it could’ve and should’ve been so much better.
If I had one major positive for the movie, it would be the cinematography. Nine-time Oscar nominated director of photographer Roger Deakins (True Grit, Fargo) makes this film look absolutely stunning. While watching the movie I thought there was something familiar with the look so it wasn’t surprising to see to see his name during the end credits. So if there’s only one reason to see In Time, this would be it.
All in all, In Time isn’t a bad movie by any stretch. The concept, even unfulfilled, is good, the performances are relatively acceptable with Timberlake of all people leading the way and showing that with the right script and director, he can develop himself into a fine actor.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.75/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard case with a glossy and reflective slip cover.
The Minutes (16:35; HD) is a mock documentary showing interviews with the actors playing their characters talking about using time as a currency. Given the length of this feature, it’s relatively pointless. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted/Extended Scenes (12:52; HD) – We get 10 fairly innocuous scenes, a few very short, that really don’t offer a whole lot and, while nice to watch, don’t offer a whole lot in the context of the film. However, there is one scene that clears something up: how the hell they got the armored truck!
Live Extras – This submenu contains Fox’s Live Lookup where you can check out filmographies via IMDb while watching the movie (personally it’s quicker and easier just to use my computer for that). You can also access BD-Live to watch previews for other movies. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Theatrical Trailer (2:23; HD)
This release also contains a DVD/Digital Copy combo disc. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Previews – This Means War, Immortals
Also included is a DVD/Digital Copy combo disc.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Fox brings In Time to Blu-ray presented in 1080p high-definition (AVC codec) and its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture looks great thanks in large part to Deakins’ brilliant photography with rich colors whether in the ghetto or in New Greenwich. The detail level is pretty good although at times it does come across a bit soft, but it’s fairly minimal. There are no signs of flaws such as artifacting or pixilation.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track in the meantime sounds excellent. The film offers a balanced amount of loud action scenes and the quieter, more dialogue driven moments. In both instances, the audio never wavers providing nice depth during the chase scenes but also clarity during character dialogues. I can’t say this is a resoundingly successful transfer, but it’s far more than satisfactory.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, In Time is a movie that had so much but squandered a great idea with a half-baked screenplay, thinly written characters and a plot that is more in line with a Bonnie & Clyde/Robin Hood story than anything else. Justin Timberlake isn’t bad as the main lead while Amanda Seyfried looks good but her character isn’t fully developed, The biggest asset the movie does have going for it is Roger Deakins cinematography, otherwise this is more or less an entertaining movie.