Reviews & Previews - In Time

Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2011 at 05:00 PM

In Time

By: S. Tran
Starring:  Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Director:Andrew Niccol
Running time: 109 minutes
Rated: PG-13

Never Mind the Details

High concept science fictions movies are a favourite of mine. In Time promised something along the lines of Gattaca, but in the end failed to deliver despite a great premise and a good cast.

Set in the future the film establishes a society where time is literally the currency. People have been genetically wired to stop aging at 25 years and from that point on must accumulate more time to live by working, begging or stealing it. Your know exactly how long you have to live at any given point by the countdown clock built into your arm. As the green numbers ominously tick down people like Will (Timberlake) live each day on a precarious knife's edge where every hour counts.

On the other side of the tracks lives Sylvia (Seyfried) daughter of a wealthy fianancier whose worth is measured in decades and not the hours that people like Will have to worry about. With the entire economy based on time ( a cup of coffee is four minutes off your life) the story is ripe for comparisons with our own current debates around the inequality of wealth distribution.

As Will sets out on a somewhat ill defined quest to right the injustice he perceives, he and Sylvia are pursued by a Time Keeper named Raymond (Murphy) whose job it is to make sure that the poor stay poor. This is really not explained very well, something about disrupting the system. It is this lack of detail that brings down the movie in the end for me. With a premise as original as this I expected to get some rational explanations for how things worked, even if they were fantastical. But the director seemed to think that the audience would simply accept things without too much questioning which my not be the right call if your audience are sci-fi geeks.

For instance, after establishing that time is the ultimate currency it turns out that you can take someone's time, and life, by simply grabbing their arm and sucking the life right out of them by transferring their time into your own clock. Now I don't really need an explanation of how the clocks work, I can accept that as part of the fake science, but as a practical matter, why on Earth is is so easy to steal someone's time like that? Wouldn't it make more sense to require to person to actively agree to the transfer or require some kind of PIN number or something? That is a pretty poorly developed system when you could die in your sleep if someone snuck up on you and drained your clock.

This lack of attention to details also show up in the plot of the movie where the motivations of the characters lacks clarity and the people are too often just types. After the initial "gee whiz" has faded you are left with a pretty weak chase story that takes place in a city about the size of a city block because the Time Keeper somehow manages to locate Will pretty easily each time he manages to escape. There are also inexplicable events that just seem to happen to create drama in the film, especially the ending which made no sense to me.

What could have been an intriguing film turned out to be a so-so movie with a good premise. I was hoping for more from this movie but felt like a wasted some of my own precious time.


2.5 out of 5 Stars.

S. Tran also writes at, and


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