Despite my opinion that The Social Network is a well-made yet overrated movie, it did show me that Justin Timberlake could act, so I was looking forward to seeing him in a starring role. The idea behind In Time seemed exciting as well: a world where people live until they’re 25 and then get one year on their clock, with the ability to buy/earn more. Time literally becomes money, and the rich become essentially immortal while the poor struggle while keeping track of their hours, minutes and seconds.
Timberlake’s character, Will Salas, saves a man with a century to his name, who then wanes philosophic about the meaning of it all when you’re immortal. He gifts the century to Will, who then makes his way to the fancy part of the city where the rest of the de facto immortals live, but he soon realizes the time he was given is going to land him in some trouble as policemen, or time-keepers in this universe, are on his tail. He kidnaps the daughter (Amanda Seyfried) of a wealthy businessman to escape, and eventually the two go on a Robin Hood romp to all the time-banks.
At about twenty minutes in, you could feel the tell-tale signs of boredom. After the second heart-to-heart between the main characters, I knew it wasn’t going to be what I had hoped. It’s disappointing in a movie with such a simple visual representation of its theme (the running clocks everyone has permanently on their arm, counting down their life) that the script relies to heavily on spelling out its message of what it means to truly live. The most memorable scene, to me, was when Will’s mother (looking permanently 25 like everyone else) only has an hour and a half to get to her son. No one will give her the extra few minutes she needs to reach him. It’s better than any bomb countdown, because you know the ending is so undramatic. Whenever someone in this universe dies, they just twitch a bit as their clock reaches zero, and that’s it. Life seems so easily bought, yet it’s so easily lost.
You get the same urgent and sad feeling watching people work for minutes and days as payment, living literally day-to-day and paying four minutes for a coffee. The movie really didn’t need the long conversations about life, time and immortality: it was already placed in the audiences’ mind during the first part of the movie.
Instead of truly appreciating the heart-stopping desperation a life-clock could lend action sequences, the movie falls into an “us against the government” moralizing, which manages to be just plain boring. The “fighting” they do over their time – a sort of arm-wrestle with a mental component – also manages to throw away any sense of true danger and left me looking at my own watch.
There’s also too much time devoted to minor characters we didn’t have time to care about or remember, while the characters that could have been interesting to investigate further – the time-keeper played by Cillian Murphey being the main one – get as short as possible back-story and utterly predictable conclusions, all right on schedule.
If you don’t have time to read all that, here’s a quick version: it’s a movie with a great idea, but the second half has too much dialogue and way too much time, leaving it gasping to fill the last minutes with some Robin Hood morals in a world I thought far too complex to be saddled with something so simplistic.
I also sincerely apologize for all the puns. I just can’t resist them.
Dice roll: 3