Film Review: In Time
11/09/2011 03:21AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple
In an alternate reality (they don’t play the “in the near future” card in this film) time is the currency. You earn and spend minutes of your life like money. If you are a poor man you live a short life, but if you’re rich you could become immortal. The story follows Will Sallas who helps save a rich man seeking death after becoming bored with his long life. The man gifts Will an enormous amount of time and commits suicide at which point Will is accused of murder. On the run Will takes a rich man’s daughter, Slyvia, hostage. The two quickly become a couple and proceed on a "Bonnie and Clyde/ Robin Hood" type of robbery spree of time giving -- where they give the poor people more years of time.
Andrew Niccol always makes interesting movies. In Time has one of the best premises for a movie this year. There are so many directions you can take a story where currency is time and that is what ultimately tripped Niccol up. The movie feels like it goes in all directions trying to do too much and never finding its way through a mountain of plot, bad dialog and lame action. It is such a shame that an awesome premise is abused this way. If only Andrew Niccol settled upon one plot and focused on doing it well -- if he had, the movie would have soared.
Not only does In Time fail to deliver on its several plot lines but it also comes across as rather preachy. It makes it easy to draw comparisons to political and current events that are taking place right no and it makes it very easy to diagnose where the filmmaker stands on these particular issues. Being so heavy handed in its delivery was a real issue for the movie as there seemed to be nothing subtle or nuanced. If the concept was given a chance to breathe it would have paid off. Instead we are subjected to bad car chases (including an effects shot that looked strikingly like a toy car crashing down a hill that elicited laughter from the audience) and absurd heist scenes instead of what certainly could have been powerful death scenes of people who can look at their wrists and know exactly when they will face death. It is as if Niccol didn’t realize the weight of the story and instead was hell bent on trying to force the film to become an action movie.
The performances in the movie were all actually quite good. It is easy to see if Justin Timberlake chooses good scripts he could actually become a strong leading man. That is something I never imagined I would write even a year ago. However he did quite well with the action and the drama. The entire cast did what they could with the lousy dialog and silly situations.
To have a chance at enjoying In Time it is imperative that you check your intelligence at the door. With almost no effort I can come up with more than a dozen questions that were ignored by the film. One of the biggest pertained to the main plot of this film: if it was so easy to steal time (and the characters in this movie made it look extremely easy) then when faced with death why didn’t others ever try? People seemed way to complacent with their scheduled death -- especially when taking time from other people seemed as easy as touching wrists? In an even larger world view the movie never addresses who came up with the time control, how minutes were created, who created those minutes, and if people were genetically created how did they have parents?
In Time leaves quite a few more questions than answers. With a great premise it is bound to do that and it speaks volumes for the idea behind the film. Although In Time is a disappointing movie to say the least, you still leave the movie talking about the idea. All of Andrew Niccol’s films do just that -- as he loves to play with interesting ideas. When talking in a group after the movie my wife made the comment that this premise would be used best as a TV series that could spend more time developing all the different angles the premise offers. She is 100 percent correct. As a two hour film, In Time takes on more than it can handle and fails in the process.
Films like In Time --- Timer, Minority Report and Gattaca
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.