‘In Time’ is set in a dystopian future where no one ages past 25, and the currency of the world is the years of your life. Yeah, you read that right. If that concept sounds strange to you, don’t worry! The film has so much faith in your cognitive abilities that it won’t even make an attempt to explain it either. Will Salas (Timberlake) is working class man who earns enough ‘hours’ at work to feed himself, his mother and live long enough to earn some more but after being gifted a century of life by a ‘rich’ stranger who proceeds to commit suicide, he finds himself on the wrong side of a corrupt police force (Murphy) and breaking bread with the families who have millennia to spare (Seyfried).
I want to say something nice about this film, especially given the career of Niccol, who wrote ‘The Terminal’ and wrote/directed ‘Lord of War’ with Nicolas Cage in the leading role… However, the plot, concept and clumsy allegories to modern financial woes forbid me. Your enjoyment of this film is likely to hinge on how much you can pretend that the concept of minutes as money makes sense.
It’s never explained why money fell out of favour, how a digital alarm clock displaying time left to live appears on every child born or even how minutes are transferred – none of it. A little mystery can be a good thing, but not when you’re entire plot hinges on a concept that can’t stand on its own two feet. There is much talk of a ‘plan’, dropped hints that there is an overarching conspiracy which will be brought down by the protagonists who decry the immoral nature of the immortal rich – Seyfried’s character comes from a family who could live for a millennia, but she’d rather give the years away – but it never wraps anything up.
With a snobby bourgeoisie living off the hard working slums, it’s hard not to draw a parallel between the film and the growing dissent in America as the wealthy upper-class tramples the proletariat into the tear soaked earth. Taxes are too high and the cost of living too great, people are borrowing money at absurd interest rates – there are painfully apparent Marxist undertones contained in a plot involving of the rich being literally sustained by their income while ruthlessly exploiting the poor, but the film’s message gets lost somewhere in a futuristic story of Robin Hood.
But, back to the serious stuff.
The problem with Timberlake isn’t his acting ability, he has more talent than most give him credit for, but he’s just not cut out for the tough guy role – which is FINE, that’s just his lot in life – but for the love of pop, I wish producers would stop trying to cast him as one. Seyfried is her usual, Gollum like self with eyes bigger than the screen and a figure which defies physics, but she’s neither fantastic nor terrible as an actress – a blank slate of skin and bone.
Ultimately, ‘In Time’ is 90 minutes of clunky dialogue, fizzled out chemistry and nonsense plot… … but the people in it are attractive and the plot limps along a decent pace.