Imagine a world where time is money. Imagine a world where you stop aging at 25, but you’re only engineered to live for one more year. Imagine a world where the rich live forever, and the poor drop dead with no warning.
This is the world created by director Andrew Niccol in his latest action thriller In Time. With Justin Timberlake as the male lead, and Amanda Seyfried as his busty, pouty hostage/love interest/partner in crime, this film could easily have gone down a rocky route of bad one-liners and over-played ‘intense’ emotions. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that JT has successfully made the transition from musician to actor – a transition that has not always gone well for singers in the past (Christina and Britney, need I say more?). Timberlake is credible as a lower-class factory worker who suddenly comes into a lot of time, that is, money, that is, time. His quest to use this time for good takes us into what is essentially a class war, and JT turns out to be some kind of futuristic Robin Hood. There is a scene where he suddenly busts out some Bond-style action moves, which leaves you wondering where he learnt how to take out three or four men in black in ten seconds flat, but the rest of his performance is believable and enjoyable. The chemistry between Timberlake and Seyfried isn’t as good as that between JT and Mila Kunis in Friends with Benefits, but then again this is not a film centred on a sexual relationship.
Visually, In Time is incredibly stylish. Instead of creating a space-age world of chrome and LEDs, Niccol has made a world that looks like a slick seventies photo shoot. The cars are old-school, but have electric motors. Everyone wears shades of grey and black: suits for the rich, tattered overalls and ripped tights for the poor. Niccol has essentially continued with the theme used for his 1997 film Gattaca – elegant, pared down, modern yet recognisable, both In Time and Gattaca are set in worlds that the audience can relate to and understand. Add the fact that nearly all of the cast are young and attractive, and you’ve got yourself one good-looking film.
If I were to criticise In Time on one thing, it would be the pace of the film. The action jerks between fast-moving car chases, fights and getaways, and rather stilted scenes of dialogue and facial expressions. I found myself growing bored, and I think this is due to the film trying to be both an action/thriller and a thought-provoking intelligent interpretation of what our future might be like.
Personally, I thought the concept of In Time was brilliant and original. How refreshing to watch a film set in the future where there are no robots or aliens, and where there is no second planet because Earth has been destroyed. The idea of time as money is one that is simple and yet opens up a vast range of complexities. Do you really want to live forever? For those who live day-to-day, how are you meant to travel anywhere? And then there were all of the little nuances created by this time-sensitive world. Phrases like ‘got a minute?’ take on a completely different meaning. I particularly liked how one distinguishes between the rich and the poor: the poor run everywhere, whilst the rich amble along with, quite literally, all the time in the world.
Overall, I would highly recommend In Time. Yes, it has its moments of rather stagnant play, but if you want to see a film that might make you think about how you use the time you have in a completely different way, then this is the film for you.
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