Clock your body – In Time review

In Time – Starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Rated M. By Simon Miraudo.

Andrew Niccol’s In Time has the air of a half-baked student production about it, and not just because some of the super young and sexy cast are forced to play eighty-year-olds. It’s set in the not-too-distant future, where currency has been replaced with time. People stop ageing at 25, and must then purchase days and weeks if they wish to continue living. The rich ones can maintain their youthful visage for all of eternity; the poor just leave a pretty corpse. Workers are paid in hours; a cup of coffee costs a couple of minutes; you get the idea. Everyone is reminded of their mortality by a fluorescent green tattoo on their arm that constantly ticks down to zero. Olivia Wilde plays Justin Timberlake’s mum (which must have inspired some very confusing thoughts in a teenage JT), while Vincent Kartheiser is all blustery as Amanda Seyfried’s elderly dad. This is as close to a plot as we’ll get.

In Time is the cinematic equivalent of the stoned dude at the party who comes up with one barely interesting ‘what if’ scenario, then proceeds to nudge us repeatedly until we express to them the extent to which they have blown our mind. Writer/director Niccol has penned affecting, prescient sci-fi films in the past (Gattaca and The Truman Show), but his latest is missing the heart, brain and potentially even the spleen of his previous works. His central idea is only partly developed, and a late attempt to make it a ‘rich exploiting the poor’ parable (ever noticed how one per cent of people are older than the other 99 per cent combined?) becomes embarrassing fairly quickly.

Ghetto-dwelling Timberlake and rebellious heiress Seyfried team up to rip off her father’s banks and distribute time (Robin Hood style) amongst the poor. They are hardly the Bonnie and Clyde of our generation, but that doesn’t stop them from making eyes at one another, playing strip poker, shooting guns, and driving trucks into safes (in what must surely be the least imaginative bank robbery sequence ever). Meanwhile, a Timekeeping spook played by Cillian Murphy tries to hunt down these dangerous folk heroes, lest everyone realise how tenuous and stupid the system of time-currency really is. The audience is way ahead of them.

So many silly moments to mention, yet there’s so little time to do so. A revenge plot revealed by Timberlake to a random driver; a shoe-horned Casino Royale­-aping casino sequence; an arm wrestle (to the death); Seyfried being asked to do little other than running in a variety of figure-hugging outfits. Worse than all the silliness, the film is just plain boring. It’s an unfortunate movie that squanders a genuinely talented cast (and a peculiar movie in which Alex Pettyfer gives the best performance), but Niccol’s flimsy excuse for a sorta-dystopian tale of kinda-inequality is neither able to justify its clumsy metaphors or its reason for spending our precious time. (By the way, I’m sure these characters had actual names, but I certainly don’t recall, and looking them up on IMDB would just be a waste of … well, you know.)


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

In Time is now showing in Australian cinemas.

One Response to “Clock your body – In Time review”

  1. In Time’s storyline reminded me a lot of the sci-fi short story “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman. The film was okay, nothing to write to mom about.

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