film review: In Time (2011)


In Time poster Justin Timberlake, Amanda SeyfriedIn Time is the latest film from writer/director Andrew Niccol, who wrote and directed Gattaca. I love Gattaca. Really, it’s one of my top 10 films. So obviously this meant I had fairly high hopes for In Time. Not massively high because well, S1m0ne was a bit of a strange one and I’d heard pretty poor reports of Lord of War… but still, I liked the concept…

In Time is set in a world where time has literally become money. Each child is born with 1 year in the wallet (a glowing set of figures on their arm) and at the age of 25 they stop ageing and start spending the money on their clock. Time can be earned and spent and when it runs out, poof, you’re dead.

It sounded like a potentially fascinating setting for a film. Unfortunately, with In Time, Niccol has wasted the concept. It actually starts off reasonably strong, I’ll spare you the details but basically JT is a lowly factory worker, working to his last minutes every day. One night he comes across a mysterious stranger who, for relatively interesting reasons, gives him a lot of money. I liked that, there were myriad directions to go in with that idea… and that’s the problem.

This film has no idea what it’s trying to say. Time is money. Great. Money brings you time. Cool. Now what? Apparently “what” is a “cat and mouse game” brought about by a ridiculous misunderstanding. Which develops into some kind of a bloodless Bonnie & Clyde caper. Somewhere, somehow, I think they were trying to make some commentary on society, but it was hard to tell as they desperately tried fabricate a whole bunch of unnecessary villans while throwing in a few scenes where we could appreciate how good-looking the leads were.

It really just didn’t know how to stick the knife in… if indeed that’s what it was trying to do. What we’re left with is bits and pieces of ideas. They’re obviously trying to make a comment on banks and the current economic situation, but then they seemed to get scared of it. They danced around, having a peek at it, then backing away and bringing the film back into its (weak) characters. And the heist stuff, that could have been fun, but they had no time, no time. And what about Cillian Murphy’s timecop? He could have been quite the character… but we had to go take a wander down thug town for no reason. This film could have been fascinating and insightful, I mean that time is money is a good strong concept. But no. It was not to be.

Ahh… to be honest I don’t really want to go to hard on it. You might like the fact that it’s quite light for such a lofty concept. I didn’t but then I am quite the sci-fi fan and dystopia is my fiction of choice. So really, this movie just spit at me. I mean, don’t get me started on how messy the actual mechanics of using money is in this society. Really. It’s just, it makes no sense. It kills me a little.

Oh, if you’re wondering if JT can act, he’s ok. Nothing to write home about. Following up The Social Network with a couple of comedies was a good idea but he’ll have to work a bit harder on the next one if he wants to get any respect.

I suppose the main problem I had was that, the stranger and his motivations at the beginning had made the film seem quite ambitious, but in the end it turned completely away from that. I just hope that some time, in the future, someone takes the “time is money” thing and actually runs with it. It could even be Niccol again if he promises to make a proper movie with it. I love his aesthetic but… Why? Why did he do this?



  1. comment-avatar
    Paragraph Film ReviewsNovember 16, 2011 - 12:37 pm

    Thought this was a pretty enjoyable solid sci-fi. Think there was a lot of undertones and similarities with the recent recession and the state of our current economies, but they were left as footnotes and the action/story was pushed to the front.

    Didn’t much care for the ending though, a little too clean and cheesy.

  2. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tNovember 16, 2011 - 12:50 pm

    I guess my issue was that I was so disappointed by it. As a run of the mill sci-fi flick it’s grand… but it seemed to promise more. The setting promises more… They never explored the idea of “entitlement” that the stranger had kind of mentioned and that JT touched on when he first got to New Greenwich. The economics stuff was left as an undertone, the banking stuff was jumbled… etc. It just seemed odd to me to bring this stuff up and then go Ah, nevermind, we’ll make it an action/romance instead.

    Perhaps we could see more films set in this world, we could have prequels and sequels! How much money did it make? 😉

  3. comment-avatar
    BBrianNovember 17, 2011 - 12:11 am

    The lead chick was the meanest of the mean girls in Mean Girls. She was also one of the hot ones in Alpha Dog, which I quite enjoyed as a Justin Timberlake movie, long before The Social Network. I might start watching movies just because she’s in them. Because she’s hot. And I’ll keep watching JT movies because of JT.

  4. comment-avatar
    BBrianNovember 17, 2011 - 12:12 am

    (not the meanest, sorry, but hot all the same)

  5. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tNovember 18, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Hey BBrian – personally I quite like Amanda Seyfried. I know A LOT of people seem to hate her, I’ve heard people say she’s weird looking or that she’s a terrible actress…

    Quite apart from the fact that I do think she’s an attractive young lady, and very funny in Mean Girls, I think she just ends up getting bogged down in the films that she’s in. Somehow she seems to pick awful scripts and perhaps the directors that come along with them aren’t exactly bringing the best out of her… She’s certainly a hell of a lot more platable than some of the other young actress around *cough**kristenstewart**cough*

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