[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B007463II4][/pullquote] In Time, a film written and directed by Andrew Niccol almost didn’t make it to cinemas. After the film finished production, an author called Harlan Ellison launched a suit against Niccol and production company New Regency over claims of plagiarism from his short story “Repent, Harlequin!” said the Ticktockman. Eventually the case was settled and Ellison’s name can be found on the credits. Niccol has a background in science fiction and high concept films having won awards for his 1997 film Gattaca and his 1998 film The Truman Show. In Time features Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried as it’s principal leads.
Set in a future distopia where humans have been engineered to not age past 25 years old. Due to concerns about over-population, time has replaced money as currency and the world has been split into districts, with the poor living day-by-day and the wealthy living a relaxed, long life. In Time follows Will Salas (Timberlake) who meets a stranger in a bar and saves him from being robbed by 75-year-old mobster boss called Fortis (Alex Pettyfer). As thanks the stranger explains how the system is corrupt and gives Will a century of time with instructions to make better use of it than he has. On route to telling his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde) the good news, she runs out of time and dies. Vowing to bring down the system, Will travels to Greenwich Village, home to the wealthy and meets the daughter of one of the richest men in the world, Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) and kidnaps her. On the run being chased by Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), Will and Sylvia work out a plan to bring down the corrupt system and share time among everyone.
The concept of the film, while similar in premise to the classic 1970s science fiction film Logan’s Run, is a solid and unique one. The idea of replacing money with time and showing how corrupt the system we currently have is through the means of a system where people are left to die on the streets is fascinating. The poor run everywhere to save themselves time, while the rich take their time, never rushing and becoming so scared of wasting their life that they never take any risks. The idea that those without time, live every day to the fullest and those with lots of time never do anything is strong enough to make In Time one of the more ambitious films of the year. Sadly it never quite works.
The cast of In Time is good, and overall everyone is solid in their roles. Most notably Cillian Murphy who brings incredible depth to his Timekeper, in what could have been a limited role for an actor with less talent. Pettyfer is appauling as Fortis and one has to wonder how he continues to get work in high-profile films. He’s even less convincing in this than he was in Beastly, which says a lot and as his youthful looks disappear one has to assume that his time in Hollywood films is coming to an end. Timberlake and Seyfried are convincing, although get very little help from a script that heavy-handedly and laboriously explains every plot point.
This is the great crime that In Time commits. It takes a great idea, a good cast and a healthy budget and wastes it with heavy-handed story-telling and a penchant for treating the audience as idiots. The one-liners are cringe-worthy and make Timberlake look like an amateur actor. His stock has been rising, but this script makes his performance in The Social Network and Friends with Benefits look like flukes.