In Time review


Justin Tim­ber­lake seems to be mak­ing a decent go of things in the trans­ition from pop star to Hol­ly­wood actor, more so than other music­ally inclined act­ing wan­nabes. Trouble is, whilst he’s not exactly a ter­rible actor, he can be bland, and lack­ing in cha­risma. He doesn’t seem to be the sort of actor who can rise above mediocre mater­ial. How­ever, on the evid­ence of In Time, nor can Amanda Sey­fried.

And In Time, no doubt about it, is mediocre mater­ial. It’s the near future, a time where mobile phones have been out­lawed. Actu­ally, they haven’t. I think, for reas­ons that are never explained, they’ve just never been inven­ted. Not even the rich elite have them. I felt like I was watch­ing Soylent Green all over again. So is this some sort of par­al­lel future uni­verse? Possibly.

Any­way, every­one pays for everything in “time”, rather than dol­lar bills or pound coins. Fancy a sand­wich? That’ll cost you a couple of minutes. What about that cool look­ing sports car? 59 years mate, and I’m cut­tin’ me own throat. Time is a valu­able com­mod­ity, more than ever. Thanks to genetic med­dling, people can never phys­ic­ally age above 25. But they can top up their body clock — a glow in the dark digital readout on one fore­arm — that helps them live, essen­tially, forever.

Split into time zones, the future city of In Time is your clas­sic dysto­pian night­mare, the rich sit­ting at the top, the poor rolling around in their own shit at the bot­tom. The only dif­fer­ence here, is that even those at the bot­tom of the food chain tend to look young, buff, and impec­cably turned out. This has the unfor­tu­nate side effect of mak­ing their plight — they often only have a day of time to play with, at best — appear some­how less urgent than it should be. Even as body clocks are shown count­ing dan­ger­ously close to zero, I felt these ath­letic Hol­ly­wood types would maybe pull a mir­acle out of nowhere and sur­vive. The ten­sion should be unbear­able. It isn’t.

Every­one look­ing 25 also leads to some con­fus­ing, incon­sist­ent act­ing. For instance, Alex Petty­fer is sup­posed to be an eld­erly gang­ster, but he just plays it like a cocky 25-year-old. You’d never guess he was get­ting on in years, judging by his man­ner­isms. Olivia Wilde, play­ing Tim­ber­lake’s mum, at least tries to act “older”.

As for the rich folk of the story, they gen­er­ally just act bored. Under­stand­able, as the point being made is that if you have cen­tur­ies of time to play with, you lose the energy and drive that an 80 year lifespan would give you (I would prob­ably get up at 4pm instead of noon, for example). When Tim­ber­lake meets up with rich girl, Amanda Sey­fried, he’s sup­posed to be the cata­lyst that shocks her out of her stupor. Sey­fried’s heart never seems in it though, and any change seems sud­den, and too obvi­ously scrip­ted. There’s not a great deal of chem­istry between her and Tim­ber­lake. I thought she still looked a bit bored at the end of it all.

So what sort of film is it? In Time can never make its mind up. Is it a dazzling expose of how the rich exploit the poor? Not really. It didn’t tell me any­thing I already know. Is it a futur­istic action extra­vag­anza with cool guns and even cooler car chases? Not really. The action is poorly staged, nearly slip­ping into reverse, let alone hit­ting high gear. It also includes per­haps the most hil­ari­ously bad car crash of recent times. Look for it on You­tube, and be amazed.

The idea that “time is money”, quite lit­er­ally, is not a bad concept. But dir­ector Andrew Niccol deliv­ers an often bor­ing, deeply aver­age film off the back of it. Unfor­tu­nately, it cost me 109 minutes of my life to find that out.