Movie Review: In Time (PG) / Directed by: Andrew Niccol / Screenplay by: Andrew Niccol / Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Andrew Niccol is back as director and writer for this high concept sci-fi action thriller. The story takes place in a dimension where people stop ageing at 25 years old; they are left with one more year on their body clock to which they have to add more time to by working or stealing. In this reality, time is money and the rich live a leisurely life with hundreds of years on their clocks whilst the poor live on the edge scrambling to gather enough time to live for one more day. Interesting ideas are played with whilst still managing to keep the pace fast enough for the audience not to dwell on some continuity issues and sloppy editing.
Niccol was also responsible for co-writing The Truman Show that dealt with a man whose whole life turns out to be a lie and an elaborate reality show. He penned and directed Gattaca that dealt with issues of genetic modification. They were both solid sci-fi dramas that stimulated the brain, but with action taking a front seat in his new film, some of the great thought-provoking ideas are not dealt with as they should be.
The rich and poor are divided in to separate living quarters that look great on the big screen. The New Greenwich of the rich is stylishly lavish and sleek whilst the industrial ghetto of the poor is sparse and dirty. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the ghetto with his mother (Olivia Wilde) and they try to make an honest living, but inflation and pay issues make sure their existence is a race against the clock. When Will meets rich stranger, Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) in a drinking establishment his life changes into a whirlwind of conspiracy and high speed chases; Henry has had enough of living and decides to end his life by giving Will his remaining one hundred years of time.
Justin Timberlake is a fine leading male, mixing action hero with suaveness works for the role and he manages to be entirely watchable and engaging. Amanda Seyfried as the leading lady, a rich girl searching for a thrill, is not as powerful in her role as she should be but plays off Timberlake well enough with some witty one- liners. Humour is dotted around the film and it is pretty clear from the start that Niccol is aware of the issues that come with a cast entirely made up of young people.
Niccol’s film presents some compelling and contemporary arguments, with issues of recession, the want for eternal youth, and a capitalist world at the forefront but fitting in so many ideas leaves some of the supporting characters quite one dimensional. Alex Pettyfer plays a ghetto gangster who makes a living from stealing time from those around him, being more cartoonish evil rather than presenting any real danger. Cillian Murphy plays a timekeeper, policing any crimes against time and hunting down Salas as he tries to bring down the system, but you feel no real empathy with his position.
Niccol’s attempts to bring his usual intelligence to the table are somewhat lost in the latter half of the film as it turns into sequences of running around and a ridiculous attempt at a tense fighting scene involving Justin Timberlake and Alex Pettyfer looking intensely at each other whilst holding hands. An entertaining enough mainstream thriller that doesn’t quite reach the heights of satisfying science fiction; in the end the ideas just don’t translate all that well onto the big screen.
Expected rating: 6 out of 10
'In Time' is out now in US cinemas and will hit the UK November 1st