Review: In Time
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Johnny Galecki, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer, Vincent Kartheiser
In the future, money has been abolished, replaced by time as the only currency, as people have been genetically engineered to stop aging once they reach the age of 25. A clock on their forearm then counts down a final year they have to live, and when their time is up, they die. But the remaining time they have left can be topped up, by being paid for work, it can be passed, or stolen, from one person to another by way of a simple handshake, and is not only how long they have to live, but also their currency for paying rent, buying food or goods.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is 28 years old, living with his 50 year old mother (Olivia Wilde) in the ghettos, supporting the two of them by working in factories day-to-day since his clock started counting down. One night in a bar after work, Will meets Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a man who claims to be over 100 years old, and whose clock has over 100 more left to live. When Hamilton is attacked by a group of mobsters led by Fortis (Alex Pettyfer) trying to steal his time, Will helps him to escape and the two of them hide in an abandoned building, where Henry confides in Will that there is more than enough time for everybody.
Henry has lived in the upper class zone of New Greenwich long enough that he wishes to die, and while Will sleeps, he transfers all of his years to Will’s clock, leaving himself only five minutes to view the sunrise. Will wakes, just in time to see Henry fall from a bridge as his time runs out. Realising that a camera has spotted him, Will runs from the scene, heading to meet his mother to give her the good news, but the two of them meet just as her time runs out, and she dies in his arms. Distraught, Will decides to go to New Greenwich for revenge on the rich people who live there.
Arriving in New Greenwich, he increases his time ten-fold by playing poker in a casino, where he meets 90 year old Phillipe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), and his 27 year old daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Will and Sylvia bond at a party held by Phillipe later that night, but are interrupted by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), a member of the police – known as timekeepers, investigating Will, and believing him to have murdered Henry Hamilton and stolen his time. When Will fails to convince them that he was given the time, they conviscate his time, leaving him only two hours to be arrested and processed. Will escapes though, taking Sylvia hostage, with Leon in pursuit.
Andrew Niccol has been one of those writer/directors to watch out for, ever since he did an amazing job with his debut movie Gattaca, which he followed up with by writing The Truman Show (which was eventually directed by Ron Howard), and then writing and directing both Al Pacino drama S1m0ne and Nicolas Cage drama Lord of War. Like each of those movies, In Time has a strong subtext regarding the ills of society, with the specific target in this occasion being most similar to his first movie Gattaca, commenting on the differences between the upper and lower classes of society. The movie’s plot borrows heavily from elements of both that and the 1976 movie Logan’s Run (which is sadly due to be remade), but very rarely for a movie nowadays that does borrow so heavily from others, In Time is most definately more than the sum of it’s parts. The idea of the body clock, and it’s implementation in the movie, both visually and narratively, makes it a truly interesting and unique macguffin, as opposed to the tired ideas we’ve had lately.
That’s not to say that the movie is without fault. The movie, while being under the two hour running time, could have easily been stripped of some elements, in particular one storyline revolving around Alex Pettyfer’s mobster, and in the last third of the movie, is seems as though it’s lost it’s direction, thankfully it recovers well enough to lead to a satisfying, if slightly open conclusion.
The stylings of the movie in both it’s Ghetto and New Greenwich settings all looks futuristic but still have a feeling of familiarity so as to not make the movie seem too far ahead into the future, further emphasise the stories’ class undertones. Niccol’s direction and the pacing of the story also helps to bring this through, and the movie has chase sequences mixed in with some dialogue heavy scenes, neither of which go on for too long. Another surprising aspect of the movie is the cast, being that a rule of this movie’s story is that people don’t age past 25 years old, all of the cast are around this age.
Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfriend, two actors who I have never been especially impressed with (except perhaps with the exception of Timberlake’s performance in The Social Network last year), give what may be the best performances of their careers so far. Olivia Wilde, though slightly underused, is believable as Will’s mother, and Cillian Murphy is as fantastic as ever as the law enforcing timekeeper who’s beginning to tire after 50 years of enforcing time, Matt Bomer, though in the movie for a small part, is also good in his part as someone who has had enough of life, and even Alex Pettyfer gives a decent performance for a change (though his character as previous mentioned, pacing wise, could really have been left on the cutting room floow), but one performance that really stands out is Vincent Kartheiser (who many may recognise from TV shows Angel and more recently, Mad Men), who is truly believable in his performance as a 90 year old powerful billionare in the non-aging body of a 25 year old.
The music by Craig Armstrong is also something to listen out for, as it underscores the movie and knows when to be subtle, but during the chase sequences, is ramped up and supports the action. Of particular note in these scenes is the beat of the musis running in time with the ticking seconds of a clock, which is a nice subtle touch. Andrew Niccol is now up there among my favourite directors to watch out for, and In Time will definately be in my top 10 movies of 2011 later in the year. In time is another great movie released after the dissapointing blockbuster season, made on a modest budget of approx $40 million, and is truly deserving of your time. Be sure to catch it.
It may interest some to also know that Niccol is currently in the process of adapting Stephenie ‘Twilight’ Meyer’s non-Twilight novel The Host for a release next year.
Posted on November 4, 2011, in Reviews and tagged amanda seyfried, andrew niccol, cillian murphy, future, In Time, justin timberlake, logan's run, reviews, science fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.