Time is money. That’s not just some capitalistic mantra. It’s the central plot of “In Time,” the promising but, ultimately, extremely disappointing new film from Andrew Niccol.
Time is money.
That’s not just some capitalistic mantra. It’s the central plot of “In Time,” the promising but, ultimately, extremely disappointing new film from Andrew Niccol, who wrote the excellent “The Truman Show” and wrote and directed the underappreciated “Gattaca.”
Niccol continues to push his special brand of speculative fiction here, and he presents some intriguing ideas, the major one being that in the near future, there is no more money. People now “pay” for whatever they want – be it food, drink, cars, entertainment, sex – with time. Let me clarify: They pay with whatever time they have left.
Everyone stops aging when they’re 25, destined, like vampires, to forever remain the way they look and feel at 25. The catch is that when they reach that age, “forever” means just one year. A bright green glowing reverse digital clock on their arm is activated, with one year of time on it, clicking back, back, back, until it runs out and they simply drop dead.
Ah, but if you’re resourceful, or rich, you can buy or bargain for more time. You can add it onto your personal clock, kind of like charging your cellphone.
So here’s factory worker Will Sallas (Justin Timberlake) living in the poor part of town that officials call the ghetto, usually running around with a day or two on his arm, always hustling a way to gain another day or two. When he finds himself with a century to live, then suffers a family loss (the gorgeous Olivia Wilde hasn’t much more than a cameo as his young-looking mom), he decides to take his grief out on the money barons from Wall Street.
Oops! Wait, I mean the dark-suited time controllers from wherever they’re running the world’s economy, from wherever they’ve turned – you’ve got it – time into money.
It’s in this other zone that he meets the fabulously beautiful and wealthy (lots of time on her hands, or arm) Sylvia Weiss (Amanda Seyfried), who’s one of those adventurous, reckless, naughty girls always making trouble for her even more wealthy time lender daddy (Vincent Kartheiser).
Of course, opposites attract, and she goes on the run with Will, bumping into, along the way, an earnest timekeeper (Cillian Murphy), a villainous highwayman (Alex Pettyfer), cups of coffee that cost four minutes, snazzy new cars that cost 59 years and a story from which big chunks of logic are missing.
This turns out to be an exercise in chase-capture-escape, a plot element that’s repeated over and over. The script also hints at some big secret that links the timekeeper on Will’s tail with Will’s long-gone father, but it never clearly gets around to revealing what happened.
Worst of all, the film saddles the talented Timberlake with the never-very-good Seyfried. Timberlake has proven himself as an actor in films such as “The Social Network” and “Alpha Dog.” Seyfried hasn’t given audiences even one believable moment in her movies. Planted together here as a sort of Romeo and Juliet (or is it Bonnie and Clyde?), Seyfried’s lack of natural talent drags Timberlake down. There is no chemistry; everything about their onscreen relationship is flat.
There are a few sparkling moments in the film, such as when a street bum says to someone, “You got a minute?” and that line takes on a whole new meaning. But for the most part, it’s waste of time.
IN TIME (Rated PG-13 for violence, sensuality, language.) Cast includes Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol. 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.