In Time is a sci-fi flick lacking in most of the details and technologies that normally make science fiction its own brand of film. It’s also a thinly veiled commentary on the dangers and atrocities of capitalism, and a thumbs-up to Robin Hood justice, as long as that justice comes with a sidekick in a short skirt and a pair of heels. As such, it is a crude, poorly written statement about American society that does not offer any real solutions, instead choosing cutesy violence and witty euphemisms to today’s culture turning into tomorrow’s. Which would be fine, if In Time were at least a rollicking action adventure story. It’s not. On the bright side, at least the plot follows a logical order. Despite the presence of what should be a great cast, including Cillian Murphy, Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, and Amanda Seyfried, with an appearance from The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki, the acting in In Time is stiff and stilted, mostly due to lines from Lord of War and Gattaca writer/director Andrew Niccol that render the characters as lifeless as post-mortem photography.
This is not fully apparent at the beginning of In Time, set in a deftly shot world where people don’t physically age past 25, although people can live as long as they wish, provided they own the minutes. Will Salas (Timberlake) and his mother, Rachel (Wilde), are preparing to celebrate Rachel’s 50th birthday, a feat that most people living in poverty never get to see. Unfortunately, the two each have less than a day left on their clocks. It is here we learn that time is currency. Time pays for the rent, the loans, the coffee, the bus fare…and the prices are growing steeper every day.
Although Will and Rachel head off to their own daily labors, Will’s day won’t follow the normal pattern of toil. In the evening Will heads to a bar where saves the life of Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a wealthy man who gives up all the time he has to Will as a way to purposely kick the bucket. Before he dies, Hamilton informs Will that there is plenty of time in the world, but the wealthy are hoarding it in vaults and banks so those in the ghetto die prematurely. The message? In the future, humans will be down with a barbaric form of population control.
After Hamilton dies, Will leaves the scene to share the good news and some time with his mother. However, after missing the bus, his mother begins running out of time and reaches Will a few seconds short. Stricken with grief at his mother’s death, Will goes on a rampage -- which really means he says things like, “I’m gonna take them for everything they’ve got” -- breaking out of the ghetto and kidnapping millionaire heiress Sylvia Weis (Seyfried). This is easy for Will to do, since Sylvia has eyes for Will from the moment she sees him. The chemistry there, however, is not half bad.
This is why it is easy to see how Will convinces Sylvia that her wealthy father blows and she should take him for all he has got. For the rest of the movie Sylvia’s role is to follow Will around like a chicken with its head cut off (and wearing heels), running hither and thither to rob from the wealthy and run from the bad guys. Alex Pettyfer and Murphy are these villains, with Murphy taking on the role of the unhappy, conflicted officer who does not want to see the balance upset and Pettyfer playing the dumbass thug with the slick accent. I’m sure their characters had names.
Since aging in the film ends at 25, the entire movie is dominated by folks who look between 25 and 35, which leads to a lot of slapdash jokes, including one moment when a hooker gets chided for still being in the game. It turns out she’s 60, and now everyone knows. The jokes are underwhelming, but they aren’t half as poorly constructed as the technology glow-lit onto people’s arms to tell them how much currency they possess. That’s pretty much it for gimmicks, though, because every other part of the future, including the cars, the guns, the phones, and the clothes are as uninspiring as the endless shelves at an inexpensive retail chain.
In Time leaves our heroes on the run, which is a fitting way to end a movie that does not offer many answers. Are these people actually human? Why was aging stopped in the first place? Why is no other technology up-to-date? Who is behind it? Where does the government come into play? In Time may try to beguile us with its sleek looking Blu-Ray picture, but its useless storyline keeps us from enjoying the ride. The first extra is a fake documentary set in the In Time world, called “The Minutes.” In it, multiple cast members are interviewed, as well as some scientists that give a historical backdrop to the time-as-currency idea.
Next up are some deleted scenes. Some of these are short pieces of scenes that did appear in the movie. However, a scene where Will and Sylvia dance is particularly compelling, and a second scene where Murphy threatens over the phone reads pretty well. The deleted scenes also show how the spots where the time clocks are located are blocked on the actor’s arms.
While there is a lot to the fake documentary and the deleted scenes, I am really surprised no one bothered to conduct any real interviews with the cast or, especially, Niccol. I would have particularly have liked to have seen where the idea came from and how Niccol conceived his vision.
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