Monday, November 07, 2011

In Time

Year: 2011
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde

Plot: In a world where everyone has been genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 and live for one more year, time has become the currency. Those who have years on their clock are the rich who live forever, while the poor live by scraping enough time to last the next day. Will Salas is a man from the ghetto who inherits a century from someone, and while being pursued by the authorities, attempts to make things right in the distribution of time.

Review: The moment I learned the plot from In Time and heard it was Andrew Niccol directing, it literally rang "Gattaca" in my head. The similarities are uncanny: it's set in the future, underprivileged man gets to live a life of privilege thanks to a kind man with the means, man falls for a girl from the upper class, someone suspects his ruse and investigates him. It's all there.

I have to admit though, In Time has an intriguing premise despite its familiarity. In this world, we don't carry cash, we carry time on our wrists. We can pass the time to another person as easily as passing money from hand to hand. The difference is, if you have no time, you're dead. From a logical standpoint, I still don't know how you pass time to another person by touch, but there you go.

Niccol's version of the future is kinda like Gattaca: it's sleek, inorganic and very formal. Kudos to Niccol and company for the great set design, as well as the stark change in transportation, where cars look like they run on electricity and even hum differently. Cars look very retro but at the same time, exude a futuristic image.

I like how the disparity between the two social classes are shown here, by using time zones that separate the wealthy from the poor. I also like the appearance of the Minutemen, thugs who steal other people's time by force, and the police force that are called Timekeepers. In a world like this, it's very relevant.

However, Niccol squanders a good opportunity to turn this into a good thriller by the time the film hits the halfway mark. At this point, Will and his love interest Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), who's wealthy, decide to become a Bonnie & Clyde pair and steal time from time banks, and then distribute them to the needy. This is where the story seemingly grinds to a halt, because Niccol stays on this plot to the end, and worst of all, doesn't even give it a satisfactory finale. In this part of the film, it feels as if he can't decide how to move the plot along or how to end it.

I've never been a fan of Timberlake's acting, and after this I'm not changing my mind. He's not awful, but inconsistent in his portrayal of Will. Amanda Seyfried isn't much better, she's basically following Timberlake's lead here. Definitely not one of her better roles. Cillian Murphy does what he can as the Timekeeper on Will's trail, but you get the feeling he's a tad miscast. Alex Pettyfer plays against type as the Minutemen's leader, but doesn't have a heck of a lot to do.

In the end, In Time is a a film with a lot of wasted potential. A real pity. Don't rush out to see this. (3/5)

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