Movie Review: In Time (2011)

November 7, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

I am more accepting of average sci-fi movies than most, primarily because I believe having an intelligent, creative premise means you’re almost halfway there.

In Time, the new star-studded sci-fi action film written and directed by Andrew Niccol (best known for Gattaca and Lord of War), has what I think is a brilliant premise — at some time in the future, genetic engineering has enabled humans to stop ageing physically past the age of 25, and the phrase ‘time is money’ has become literal.  All currencies have been replaced by time, which can be earned, spent and gambled just like money.  Everybody has a clock on their forearm that counts down towards zero, and when it hits zero, you die.

Naturally, people want time, and they’re willing to do just about anything to get it.  However, like money, some people have more than they know what to do withy, while others are living day-to-day, not knowing where the next minute or second might come from.  Though not entirely unique (Logan’s Run, for instance, has a similar premise), I found that to be a very compelling idea brimming with potential.

And so I was excited about In Time.  Sure it had Justin Timberlake (the hero from the ghetto), but it also had Amanda Seyfried (the poor little rich girl), Cillian Murphy (the ‘Timekeeper’), Alex Pettyffer (that’s Mr I Am Number Four, as a time stealing thug), Olivia Wilde (I’ll keep her role as a surprise) and that guy from White Collar (Matt Bomer).  Call me optimistic, but I was hoping that it would be this year’s Inception.

Well, I was wrong.  While In Time was not the painfully horrible piece of crap some critics have labelled it to be, it was undoubtedly a frustrating waste of a promising premise.  There were so many interesting places they could have gone with this film, and instead they went down an utterly bizarre path, one that completely underutilised the concepts the premise afforded.

I could forgive all the half-assed sci-fi concepts and stuff that made little sense and had no explanation (like the time transfer mechanism and the whole point of the system), but what I couldn’t ignore was all the false hope that the film built up in the first third but failed to deliver.  And my goodness, the loose ends they just kicked to the curb (Timberlake’s dad, anyone?)!

Timberlake and Seyfried make a cute couple and there are some slick action sequences, but the further the film went along the more disappointed I became in the generic direction it was heading.  Just because there is an emphasis on action and romance doesn’t mean the film cannot also be intelligent and challenge audiences to use their brains a little.

Then again, I suppose if all you’re looking for is a forgettable action sci-fi romp with sexy stars, then In Time might be enough.

2.5 stars out of 5!