Saturday, 21 July 2012

In Time

"For a few to be immortal, many must die"

In the near future the human race has managed to genetically engineer itself to stop aging at 25. Once you reach 25 though you are given one year of time until your death. As a result time becomes currency with people able to exchange, rob and work for it. Society has been divided by social class into various time zones and it is in one of the poorest zones that we find factory worker Will Salas (Justin Timberlake). Salas lives day to day in the ghetto, never having more than a few hours to live. After the death of his mother (the totally hot Olivia Wilde) Will saves the life of a 104 year old with a death wish. The old man gives Will all of his time he but is then hunted down by Time Keeper (Cillian Murphy) under suspicion of murder. Will travels to the prosperous New Greenwich where he meets heiress Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried). When the time keepers catch up with him, Will kidnaps Sylvia and the two go on the run.

There is a very interesting idea somewhere in this film and occasionally it attempts to shine through but is often hampered by poor dialogue and an obvious, much told story.

The opening few exchanges set up the world very successfully as Will runs to work to save time and then complains that the price of coffee has risen to four minutes for a cup. My initial thought was not only that the idea was interesting but it is also a disconcerting notion to have your life expectancy ticking down on your arm. Early on you also get a good understanding of the harsh reality of living in the dystopian world that the time implants have created. People drop dead in the street and families struggle to keep each member in time. The ruthlessness is rammed home when early on Will’s mother dies when she doesn’t have enough time to get on the bus but also not enough time to run home and get more from Will.

After the opening ten minutes, things go downhill. One of the most problematic things visually is that even though this is a world in which no one ages past 25, not one of the central cast look 25. In 2011 when the film was released Justin Timberlake was 30, Cillian Murphy was 35, Vincent Kartheiser was 32 and Johnny Galecki was 36! Of the central cast only Amanda Seyfried and Alex Pettyfer were of an appropriate age even they looked older than the 25 cut off. Considering the whole plot hangs on this idea its pretty poor that no one actually fitted within its parameters.

The plot was predictable and dull. It is basically a Robin Hood story only set in the future and instead of stealing money, the hero steals time. The time stuff can only keep one interested for so long before realizing that you’ve seen the plot a thousand times. Everything is recycled; from the cop who escaped the ghetto only to keep it down to the rich girl falling for the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The side plot featuring Alex Pettyfer’s gangster character added nothing whatsoever to the plot and was merely a distraction used to eek out the run time. There were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot too, the most obvious being Seyfried’s sudden transformation from scared little rich girl to badass bank robber in a matter of minutes. It felt rushed and went too far. There were also several inconsistencies with relation to the use of time. In one scene Timberlake travels for hours to get from Dayton to New Greenwich but later he travels the other way in under forty minutes. In another scene Timberlake and Seyfried are amongst skyscrapers then all of a sudden in the outskirts then suddenly a short run later are in the middle of nowhere at a border post. At one time Timberlake had two hours left on his timer and it was night time yet he was still alive during the middle of the next day.

Despite the inconsistencies with some of the time related aspects of the film, there seems to have been a lot of attention to detail given to the script. The phrasing of sentences makes a lot of sense despite discussing time as a currency and there are a lot of clever pieces of dialogue. Unfortunately it seems that so much attention went to the time parts that when the characters spoke normally it sounded as if it had been written by an aardvark, writing in its second language. There was a lot of terrible cliqued dialogue and plot exposition which detracted from some of the cleverer aspects of the script.

Justin Timberlake delivers a mixed performance, sometimes seeming like a proper actor while at other times looking out of his depth. He is overshadowed by Amanda Seyfried who is very good and looks great under the heavy eye makeup, ginger wig and short dress. She also manages to outclass the usually excellent Cillian Murphy who is under par here and seems to get bogged down in the poor script and lumbered with a character who spends all of his time looking at indecipherable boards and chasing Timberlake. One thing I did like were the cars which looked like they were from the 1950s but updated with futuristic additions.

In the end In Time has an interesting idea behind it and is occasionally good but really feels like an excuse for Hollywood to have a screen filled with attractive twenty-somethings. The plot is predictable and the script messy but it passes 109 minutes by providing some entertaining moments.    


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