Monday, 14 November 2011

A lateish review of In time.

It would be very ironic if anyone were to arrive at a showing of this film late. Writer/director Andrew Niccol has created many smart and original ideas; his most famous work includes the writing of the 1999 film The Truman Show. The premise of In Time is another ingenious idea and the Science Fiction is a genre about ideas, so ideas are important but does the quality of the execution match the brilliance of the premise? To an extent, it does.

In a parallel, dystopian world, time is literally money, people in this world age to twenty five then stop and the countdown begins (shown handily on their arm), the only way to survive is to buy or earn time. So this anti aging presents a chance for fifty year old women to look like Olivia Wilde (if only). People's wages are paid in time, people pay in time for a cup of coffee, bus fares and taxes all these purchases shorten their life. Many are poor and living by the day but some, a small percentage, own a large percentage of time of which they have thousands of years to flutter away in games of poker, flash cars and expensive meals. There are time zones, which cost months, sometimes even years to pass through thus the rich and the poor do not mix. However when Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is given over a century of time from a rich man, Will's actions (passing through different time zones) result in him becoming the centre of attention of the timekeepers.

In Time's message is an obvious one, it is one about capitalism and how under 'capitalism man exploits man'. There are many examples of this to see in the film, the rich are ignorant of the poor's suffering as they simply turn their heads and look the other way. Also very few poor people cross time zones (which are basically an analogy for social classes as very few people change social class from their birth). Capitalism is the survival of the fittest but this Darwinian capitalism does not present an equal opportunity for all. Andrew Niccol looks at this rather well but as the action and the running take over the film slightly loses some focus on the central idea and changes its course of action to the action itself. Also if anyone has any knowledge of the world and is not ignorant it does not tell us anything we don't already know. Yet, as Marxism tells us, the next revolution (after socialism, of course) will create a system of a classless society, though the director never investigates the aftermath of such a revolution.

Running at an economical 110 minutes time passes swiftly enough with its brisk pace (but the romantic subplot slows things down slightly) and interesting premise which does enough to hold the attention. In Time looks terrific, as Torquay born, frequent Coen collaborator Roger Deakins is the cinematographer who once again makes the dystopian city look stunning and keeps the action clean, precise and entertaining. It is still shocking that he has never won an Oscar. In Time does have an Adjustment Bureau feel about it as it is shot in a similar style and also has two central figures running anyway from an organization that attempts to correct any flaws in the system but however In Time is not quite as entertaining as the sexual chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried (who plays Sylvia Weis) is not quite as impressive as the chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt who are the reason why The Adjustment Bureau so entertaining.

While In Time is certainly entertaining most of the dialogue is awful, many of the time puns are just poor and become tiresome very quickly and the performances range from good to just plain dull. There are no outstanding performances but Cillian Murphy as lead Timekeeper (who is unfairly branded the villain of the piece, when the real villains are the rich wealthy multinational business owners) is good in a Deckard style role, a man who is just doing his job, earning his living like everyman (and women) has to do. Justin Timberlake undoubtedly improves upon his rather dreadful performance in Bad Teacher making a satisfactory futuristic Robin Hood but he has no chemistry with a rather bland Amanda Seyfried, thus the romance that blooms between the two rather gets in the way of the story and slows the pace down slightly. Vincent Kartheiser is fine as Phillipe Weis (a rich business owner) but Alex Pettyfer does not make a very threatening gangster. There are holes in the plot and things go completely unexplained, for example the reason why humans stop aging at twenty five is only put down to humans being genetically engineered that way without any further explaination for why they were genetically engineered that way and also why does Sylvia Weis continue to run in high heels?

Despite its shortcomings, of which there are many, In Time remains an entertaining film, and it has a message, which is slightly dumbed down and obvious, but remains relevant. The premise of the film is intriguing but with its fascinating premise and impressive young cast In Time, despite it being entertaining, still had plenty more to offer.



  1. Excellent review man! Keep 'em comin'!

  2. Ironic how you posted a late review of 'In Time'. Anyway, great review, I would not mind seeing this one

  3. I finally saw In Time about a week or so ago. I liked it. It's not a must see, but it is entertaining. I saw Murphy's character not so much as "evil", but as the Inspector Javert to Timberlake's Jean Valjean - someone who goes to insane lengths because of his extreme black and white view of justice.