In Time

Art & Culture

There comes a time when a man and a woman running around hand in hand with a gun stuck in the waist of his trousers (see also The Adjustment Bureau) simply fails to cut the sci fi mustard. It's not enough to have an interesting idea if it results in a dull film. Which is what this is.

Some time in the future, society has evolved to a state where everyone lives until they're 25, and then has one extra year, unless they can beg, borrow, steal or inherit more. Time is, literally, money. You pay for everything by offering your forearm, on which is encrypted a green flashing time clock, letting you (and the world) know how much time you've got left on your personal clock. The rich live in separate zones, the poor get by as best they can, which is not very well. So far, so sci fi.

Enter our hero, Justin Timberlake, with a shaven head. After doing a good deed, he is rewarded with 100 years by his rescuee. This is a fortune, and he enters the rich zone, and gambles with his fortune, increasing it ten times over, and making goo goo eyes at the rich man's daughter (Amanda Seyfried in a bad wig). When the police arrive, he Patty Hearsts her, and soon they're on the run together, with the vague aspiration of righting the wrongs of this time-mad world.

Unfortunately, being on the run is taken very literally. At least 43% of the film is spent with them either on foot or in a car being pursued, mainly by cop aka Timekeeper Cillian Murphy, who has a Javert-like dedication to his job. As an alternative there is a sub-Droog like gang with bad British accents who just like stealing time. In other words, it's a routine, bog standard thriller, with almost nothing to recommend it, once we've got over the thrill of the Brave New World in which the film is situated. That is, after about five minutes. Andrew Niccol, who wrote and directed Gattaca (as well as scripting The terminal and The Truman Show) did the same double duty here, but appears to have gone backwards in the intervening years. The plot is full of holes, which are – as so often – ignored, by the simple device of skipping to another scene.

I like Justin Timberlake as an actor, but this film gives him nothing to do apart from run around and look tough(ish), while Seyfried is all made up eyes and high heels, which make her ability to run around so much almost miraculous. The only redeeming feature is Cillian Murphy who brings a certain wry intensity to a routine role, managing to steer a line between wicked and righteous cop.

But this is the ultimate in disposable cinema. A week or two at the big box, before it reappears on the small box a while later, by which time, we've forgotten that we ever saw it.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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