Review: In Time (12A) / Directed: Andrew Nicoll / Written by: Andrew Nicoll / Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Vincent Kartheiser, Johnny Galecki / Release Date: Out Now
Former curly-haired pop moppet turned sultry sexy backed r’n’b superstar Justin Timberlake makes a timely (geddit?) escape from romcom/light comedy Hell and tries his hand at an action hero role in Andrew Nicoll’s interesting if rarely thrilling future fantasy In Time.
In the 22nd century genetic fiddling has brought a halt to human ageing at 25 but everyone has to ‘earn’ Time to stay alive or else die within a year. The concept of money has been replaced by ’living time’ and a person’s lifespan is displayed on implants welded into the lower arm. A zero Time reading leads to instant death, the body just switching off. Not unnaturally society has become divided, the rich and virtually immortal living in luxury and the young living in bland ghettos scratching a few more hours of life and paying for necessities with the ’Time’ they’ve earned. Factory worker Will Salas (Timberlake) ‘inherits’ over a hundred years of life from a businessman he rescues from a bar brawl but who believes he’s lived long enough and commits suicide to end his eternity of living. When Will is unable to help his ageless mother (Wilde) prolong her life he rails against the unfair world order and, with Sylvia Weis (Seyfriend), daughter of Time millionaire Phillippe Weis (Mad Men’s Karthesier), sets off like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde to subvert and bring down the system. But the Timekeepers, ruthless Police-like guardians of ‘living Time’ are in hot pursuit…
Superficially there’s not much wrong with In Time. There are some decent ideas on display, even if it’s hard to work out quite what the economic benefit to the world would be if ‘living Time’ replaced the concept of money. The film is coy about the morality and ethics of life in the 22nd century, turning instead into a chase movie with Salas and Sylvia haring across the rooftops being shot at by Timekeepers or else whizzing about in the film’s cool electric cars. The forearm Time implants present some interesting visual images as well as several opportunities for literal ‘race against Time’ sequences as characters fight to renew their Time allocation with their implants counting down to zero and sudden death.
But despite all the rushing about and the odd car chase, In Time just can’t manage to be especially exciting. The first forty or so minutes drag alarmingly and when the action kicks in it seems a bit sluggish and perfunctory, as if the movie’s frustrated at having to abandon a potentially-interesting and thought-provoking ethical storyline for the sake of a couple of punch-ups and some random gunplay. Timberlake doesn’t yet have the charisma of the true action movie star and he’s pretty much acted off screen by the much cooler and more malevolent Cillian Murphy as the relentless Timekeeper Jaegar and Kartheiser as Sylvia’s ancient father trapped in the body of a young man.
Having distributed a stolen cache of a million years amongst the poor of the ghettos, Will and Sylvia, with a 100 year bounty on their heads and having set themselves up as a pair of futuristic Robin Hoods, move in to rob a huge Time Bank and continue their mission to disrupt the system. Despite some genuinely-intriguing if fairly standard dystopian science-fiction concepts, In Time never really makes the most of what it’s got and ultimately the movie comes across as diluted, half-hearted and distinctly underpowered. Unfortunately for Mr. Timberlake I’m very definitely not lovin’ it…
Special features: The DVD has a few deleted scenes whilst the fiddly Blu-ray/DVD/Triple Play edition adds some behind-the-scenes material.