Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Vincent Kartheiser
Watch In Time online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Rakuten TV / Google Play
You have 30 seconds to read this review. That makes it more exciting, right? Well, that’s what Andrew Niccol does with In Time: slaps a neon clock on everything and gives it a deadline. It’s like watching an episode of Countdown. With guns. Whenever someone’s watch begins to run out, you half expect Carol Vorderman to pop up. (She doesn’t.)
That’s just one of many missed opportunities. There are time cops, but no Jean-Claude Van Damme. There are time bandits, but no dwarves. And yet before you can feel disappointed, those clocks start ticking again.
Will Salas (Timberlake) lives life by the day. Literally. In a society where everyone stops ageing at 25, adults are given one year before their time is up. And it pays to keep count: a cup of coffee costs four minutes and a bus ride costs two hours. Miss something by a second and you die. It’s a genius idea from the Gattaca director, but he wastes it by getting bogged down in politics.
Ten minutes in, Will meets a guy with a century stamped on his arm. He gives it to Will, but not until he’s delivered a speech about inequality. Why should the rich people in the posh time zones get all the hours? Why not share the seconds with the poor folk in the slums? Can you say “credit crunch” and “heavy-handed metaphor”? Andrew Niccol can.
Luckily, things stay exciting for two-thirds of the movie. Amanda Seyfried turns up in a pretty frock, gets kidnapped by Will, and runs away from her mega-rich father, Philippe Weis (a wonderfully snide Kartheiser – aka Pete Campbell from Mad Men). The obvious happens, and soon our couple are off on a Robin Hood style campaign to tick off the toffs by taking their tocks. All the while, The Timekeepers chase them, hoping to rewind the stolen minutes.
Niccol clearly enjoys his dystopian setup, filling it with terrible time puns alongside the usual leather coats, sunglasses and vintage cars. Characters walk in and say things like “Hello, I’m Mr. Rolex”, while the central wealthy hub is neatly called New Greenwich.
Slipping on an expensive suit, Timberlake’s likeable lead fits in nicely. He has good chemistry with Seyfried’s wide-eyed sidekick, as well as Olivia Wilde, who eerily plays his mum – because of course, all adults look 25 (another undeveloped idea). The action is solid too, thanks to those constant deadlines. Hell, against the clock, even Alex Pettyfer’s sleazy thug is tolerable.
But In Time unwinds because the script loses track. Small logic holes and stupid dialogue appear. “Do you know how to drive a car?” asks Seyfried, mid-chase. “What’s there to know?” says Timberlake. Something that dumb doesn’t belong in Niccol’s intelligent universe. No wonder Cillian Murphy’s clinical villain looks bored.
Thank goodness, then, for those giant green digital digits. In Time may waste its brilliant concept (as well as its Director of Photography, Roger Deakins), but that mortal clock never stops counting down. Is the knowledge that the film’s timer will soon run out enough to keep you on the edge of your seat? You have five seconds left to decide.
In Time is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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