‘In Time’ (2011) review: Short on time — literally

Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake engage in some hefty politics in a scene from "In Time." (Photo credit: Summit Entertainment)

Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake engage in some hefty politics in a scene from “In Time.” (Photo credit: Summit Entertainment)

‘In Time’ should be more engaging than it is

Oh, JT. You’ve got to hand it to the man: He’s is a talented guy. And in most cases, he’s a solid actor to boot. But the silly antics of “In Time,” which has a far more promising and intriguing premise than you may think, drags him and everyone else down to the point where the audience also is counting down the minutes.

“In Time,” at its most ingenious, introduces us to a futuristic world where time truly is money. Or at least the currency of the day. In this world, each person ages naturally until he is 25. At that moment, a time clock embedded in the body activates. At long as that count has time on it (think of a built-in clock tattoo), you don’t age. However, if you run out of time, you die. Simple as that.


Will (Justin Timberlake) runs into this very problem early on. His mother (played by Olivia Wilde, which is just weird to see, age-wise) falls victims to the reality of what happens when your clock reads zero. It wasn’t unexpected: Will and his mother comes from the rough side of the tracks, where you have to work whatever job you can to keep that time flowing. As with today’s cash, stealing it also is possible, which leads to some complex situations.

For instance: Will finds himself wielding a double-edged sword. During the course of the film, Will is gifted an obscene amount of time. The problem: No one believes he didn’t steal it from its owner (Matt Bomer). Which leads us to the introduction of Will’s nemesis, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), who enforces the distribution of time allotment. He chases after Will in order to re-establish the status quo.

Oh, and then there’s Amanda Seyfried’s character. Who is about useless. Though she is rich. And “In Time” wouldn’t be complete without the “two completely opposite people coming together to be the heroes” aspect.

As for aspects that matter, the correlation between today’s income inequality furor and the starkness of “In Time’s” world is pretty in-your-face. Directed by Andrew Niccol, you can feel some of the same doomsday vibe so prevalent in his writing from “The Truman Show.”

And the film is beautiful. There’s gorgeous shades of chilly blue and gray, thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins, that immerse you into this sense of future-time desolation. And the LA locales don’t hurt, either. (Again with LA serving as the epicenter of some type of post-modern destruction.)

But when it counts, “In Time” just drags by. Yes, there’s a bit of a “Logan’s Run” feel to the whole endeavor, but the aspect of living for eternity though the means of science and using said longevity as currency is a cool idea. “In Time” would have been greatly improved with a better execution of the central premise. And maybe less Seyfried carrying around a giant pistol.

Two time-stopping stars out of five.

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