Film Review: In Time

(Published on The National Student and in Issue 4 of my publication In Retrospect)

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, In Time is set in the year 2161, a future where time has taken over as the world’s currency. At the age of 25, a person stops ageing, but the fluorescent green clock fitted into their arm starts ticking giving them only one more year to live. From then on they must work for more time if they wish to carry on living, but it’s not as easy for those outside of New Greenwich who live off hours rather than years.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the ghetto, in a time zone where people live day-to-day, working their hardest to make it through the night. But when a stranger gives Will over a century of life, he becomes determined to change his way of living and heads to the richest timezone, in a Robin Hood fashion to steal from the rich and give to poor. However, timekeeper Raymond (Cillian Murphy) is on his trail accusing him of murder, forcing Will to kidnap millionaire and time-loaning businessman Phillipe Weis’ (Vincent Kartheiser) daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), and take her hostage to protect his own life.

Full of rooftop chases, car flips and gun fights, In Time sets itself up to be an action film, but it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. Car flips are flimsy, and the rooftop scenes often compromise of Timberlake dragging around an impressionable Seyfried who’s trailing behind. That doesn’t prevent In Time from being a good film, though, at least in the sense that the story around these characters is constantly interesting.

The film has a good cast too, more so with the smaller roles including best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki) and Will’s mother (Olivia Wilde) who both played engrossing roles, far from the ones that are expected of them; Galecki doesn’t live up to his geeky stereotype and Wilde plays a character twice her age, and for this they both exceed. Timberlake and Seyfried, as well, play really strong roles. Seyfried especially prevails, as I didn’t expect her to fit into this type of film at all. Unfortunately, the script was a little amateur in places, though, which meant that neither of them lived up to their full hype, with Timberlake lacking the usual charm that he gives off when we remember he was once a member of N*Sync.

In Time is an undoubtedly smart film, but one of its main downfalls is a lack of explanation. Placing itself in the future, the film’s setting has somehow derived from the world as we know it, yet we are given no background story to how it has evolved to be this way. The film doesn’t reflect on its futuristic setting either, which asks us to accept an undeveloped future. In this sense, the plot doesn’t work as it seems to have been given no more thought then, “let’s swap money for time.” The film would have worked a lot better if it was set in a present, yet alternative, world as then we could have more easily accepted this premise. But setting itself a hundred years from now, we must consider it as a possible world, which a good writer would have expanded upon.

Up until writing this review I highly enjoyed the film. Unfortunately, critiquing a film means thinking about the film in-depth, and this has led me to see such many flaws. Again, a lot of these come from a lack of detail. The main question that needs to be is asked is why are the residents of the ghetto so ready to accept their fate of running out of time? Accepting death means a lack of threat, with people willing to fall down dead than to steal a couple of minutes from a passerby. The characters of the film are very naive, probably because they don’t know any better but, to an audience, this only weakens any engagement that we have with the story.

Despite all of this, I would recommend to go and watch this film and enjoy it. None of these points effecting my viewing, and until I was made to think about these minor issues in detail, I wouldn’t have had anything bad to say at all.

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