In Time Reviews
A wooden Timberlake and a pallid Seyfried are serviceable as leads but just like the rest of the cast the actors can't find their character's consistent core purpose so they just play them as generically as possible. Vincent Kartheiser and Cillian Murphy play versions of other characters they've played before.
Shoulda coulda "In Time" rarely delivers on its promise.
There is a certain nice, retro feel on display here, especially with all the customized Lincoln's and Dodge Challengers circa late 60's and early 70's. That and a nice usage of the L.A. canals and seedier backstreets (some of which I swear I've seen in about a million other films), give the film a good feel, as does some of the lighting elements - but then again it's so uneven. There are washed out scenes that perhaps were intentional, but jarring nonetheless when coming from the tight, claustrophobic dimness of the "ghetto".
The story here, just in case you were asleep in class, deals in a future where people stop ageing at 25 (think Logan's Run), and yet someone came up with the bright idea (to stem overpopulation, no doubt) to give everyone a time counter that activates at age 25. From that point on, in order to survive one has to buy time. If you go bankrupt and your time goes down to zero... well, let's just say that at that point Elvis leaves the building.
This is ok as far as it goes - a nice little bit of sci-fi - but the film does a nice turn by going deeper, suggesting that the 1% can control population growth and keep the downtrodden down by manipulating the cost of everything. So one day a bus ride will cost an hour, the next day it'll cost two - all to keep the lower class from gathering too much time (money). It is this aspect of the film that gives it relevance and really, if director/writer Andrew Nichol would have spent more time developing this aspect he would have had a better film. In fact, the first half, where this is explored, kept my attention. It was only later when Nichol went all Hollywood that the film loses its way - and boy does it ever; resorting to inane car chases and a Bonnie and Clyde buddy type film with bits of humor and bon mots that totally change the tenor of the film.
There is the big confrontation scene at the end where any five year old can tell way in advance what will happen, sucking any potential tension out of the situation. Making it worse is that the film then reuses a dramatic device from earlier in the film - the first time was poignant, the second just seemed silly and lazy. This is then followed with a tag that attempts further humor and is simply superfluous - making this feel like a low budget B film; which got me thinking of all the other B cult films from an earlier age - this film would fit right in to the category where a film like "A Boy And His Dog" reside - not great filmmaking, but not without a certain quirky charm - though A Boy & has a more cohesive narrative.
I'm really torn over whether or not this should be considered fresh or rotten - It does have some watchability, and in spite of the change or direction, isn't a total disaster - it rides right on the cusp - a 5.5 if you will. I won't discourage anyone from seeing this, but won't recommend it either.
In the not too distant future, people stop ageing when they reach 25. If they are wealthy though, they can buy time. The rest, have to work for it. Lifespan has replaced money in this dystopian world. One of the workers is gifted time from a suicidal friend, which allows him to escape his poor background and experience the life of the rich. But there are state police, known as "Time keepers" who are out to thwart his new life.
The premise to this is quite an intriguing one and the dystopian futuristic setting is wonderfully captured by the Coen brothers' regular cinematographer Roger Deakins. It's just a shame that with such a strong base to work from, it becomes nothing more than a chase thriller and abandons any attempt to delve into some possible existential theories. Even as a chase thriller, it lacks any form of excitement. It has it's moments but ultimately the film takes too long in getting to it's destination. Time is of the essence for it's characters and ironically, it also gets taken from us, having to slog through this. I'm not Justin Trousersnake's biggest fan, but he delivers a decent performance. However, the progression of his character as a future 'Clyde' to Seyfried's 'Bonnie' is uneasy and a little hard to take. Cillian Murphy's 'Time keeper' police officer is quite an intriguing one but he has little, to no, backstory. When we are given a glimpse into his character it's too little too late. It's this overwhelming feeling of emptiness that, as a whole, the film suffers from.
I didn't go into this film expecting a masterpiece or anything but I still expected more than I got. Despite looking good on the surface, it's ultimately hollow. Fans of the likes of "The Adjustment Bureau" may find more to savour though.
In Time is a decent action movie, but nothing more. It's enjoyable for an afternoon, but never rises above disposable entertainment.
The cast is likable. Timberlake and Seyfried have good chemistry, even though Timberlake occasionally seems like a less than convincing fit. I like the guy as an actor, but he doesn't entirely match the character he's asked to play. To be fair, though, the character (Will) is like an amalgam of every positive protagonist trait in movie history. He's completely selfless, generous, smooth, charming, crafty, and seems to be able to transform into an invincible action hero any time the need arises. That would be tough for any actor to sell. Amanda Seyfried is here only to look hot running around in heels and be won over by the hero. She does a good job, but since those criteria are accomplished by her genetics, wardrobe and the script (in that order), that's only to be expected.
Cillian Murphy isn't given anything more than a generic "tough and relentless, but fair" detective/antagonist role to work with. Vincent Kartheiser, on the other hand, is the one actor in the movie that's absolutely perfectly cast. No one can play a rich d-bag like Vincent.
The main problem with In Time is that the script needed a lot more polish. The concept is cool (people are essentially immortal, but every moment after they turn 25 must be "bought"), but the "time is literally money" angle could have worked a lot better if it was wielded with a bit more subtlety. Yes, we get that the rich and privileged few are "living" off of many. The story hums along at first, but then seems to waver in tone and purpose. What's simple and straightforward at first eventually unravels to the point where even the characters themselves seem to not know what they're doing or why. Timberlake and Seyfried never seem to be in any real danger, and the climaxes are thoroughly anti- climatic (the fight scene between Timberlake and a bad guy in the third act is absolutely, though unintentionally, hilarious).
Still, I didn't dislike In Time. It has a lot of flaws and certainly didn't live up to its potential, but if you take it as a faintly ridiculous Bonnie & Clyde-lite action movie with a thick and cheap coat of social issues slapped on, then you can have a good time with it. The movie definitely wants to have substance and a message, though, and it fails at that.
This is a brilliant set up, and it's really engaging and thought provoking. And for a while, the film really cooks. However, plot gets in the way, and the film devolves into an action movie pushed forward by both the Wrong Man Syndrome, and the Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood Principles. Will Salas is a poor man, living in the ghetto. One day he is given over a century's worth of time by a wealthy man tired of living. The wealthy guy gives all but a few moments of his time to Will, allowing him to commit suicide by "timing out".
Will becomes wrongfully accused of murder, and is then on the run. DUring his flight from the law, he takes a young girl hostage: the daughter of one of the most wealthy and powerful men around, a man who, for all intents and purposes, is so rich he's basically immortal. From there, the girl, Sylvia, starts to side with Will, and together they set out to distribute as much time to as many people as possible, as a way of letting all people know what it's like to not have to literally live day to day.
As I said, the initial concept and set up is terrific. Then the film does turn into a typical aci-fo action thriller type of film. Oh sure, some of the action is well done and entertaining, but there's just a few too many chases and overall, the action is the least interesting aspct of things.
There's a good cast here. Timberlake is decent as everyman Will Salas, though I do think he struggles to completely pull off the more challenging emotional parts of the material. Olivia Wilde is okay, but underused as Will's mom, and Johnny Galecki is nice in a change of pace as Will's grungy best friend. Where the film really gets interesting characterwise is with Amanda Seyfried as Sylvia, the priviliged girl Will takes hostage who becomes his partner. She's the most itneresting character, and it reallyt hsould have been about her. Cillian Murphy is fine, but unremarkable as the determined cop out to stop Will and Sylvia. There's nothign fresh here, and he seems to just be going through the motions.
All in all, this is a good film, but pretty flawed. I should knock this down by at least a half star, but I won't. There's a lot to like here on several fronts, especially with the concept, cinematograhy, and art direction. It's also never boring, even if it ends up being not what I expected, and not quite as mentally engaging as it could and should have been. B-