(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 5 November, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/in-time/330461.html)
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Amanda Seyfried, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde
Rating: 1.5 stars
Very few things can make one wish ’N Sync were still around. However, sitting through a film starring Justin Timberlake is one. It’s rather ironic that a film based on the theory that the only real currency is time leaves one feeling traumatised over wasting an hour and forty-one minutes of one’s life on it.
In Time is based on a winning concept – that everyone stops aging at twenty-five, and then has a year to live. You pay for everything with minutes, hours and months of your life, and you get paid in time. Inflation widens the gap between those who have the luxury of time, and those who live from day to day.
The movie neatly skirts all need for, or attempts at, explanation, with its opening line: “I don’t have time to worry about how it happened”, voiced over something that looks like tadpoles crawling along green veins and sounds like a slushy heartbeat. Apparently, it’s genetic engineering.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a resident of the miserably poor ghetto Dayton, and his mother (Olivia Wilde) have a few hours to go before their clocks run out, and they decide to meet one last time after work. The actors seem rather uncomfortable playing mother and son, when in any other movie, they...well, wouldn’t.
The twist comes when Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a world-weary 106-year-old visiting from the affluent New Greenwich, decides to gift away over a century of his time to Will. Now, Will would have been all happy if the producers had remembered people use mobile phones. But, no. Another twist, which largely results from poor communication, has Will descending on New Greenwich to bulldoze over the divide between the haves and the have-nots.
He meets Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), a millennia-aire (well, a millennium is what he carries on him, he’s got several million years left), at a poker table, along with his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), whose hairstyle may prompt you to mistake her for an escort. But before he can break into the exclusive circle who don’t seem to believe he “comes from time”, Will must escape two groups hot on his trail – the police force Timekeepers headed by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), who are convinced he killed Hamilton, and the gang Minutemen headed by the British-accented Fortis (Alex Pettyfer).
Thereafter, a concept with so much potential descends into a painful catch-me-if-you-can, complete with a kidnapping, multiple robberies, crazy hormones and the unlikely scenario of all the technology in the world failing against an impulsive, impoverished youngster. The morals, principles and ambitions of Will and his newly-acquired girlfriend are ambiguous at best.
The movie seems to set out to prove that being molested by a stranger will usually make a rich heiress turn against her family, and nothing will put her off the stranger, even if he goes on a killing spree.
Soon enough, you begin to long for someone to shoot them. Case in point: when both their lives are at risk, he actually coos, “This is called a trigger. Now, you don’t pull it unless you actually want to shoot something”, and she giggles.
Punctuated by terrible jokes that even the actors seem embarrassed to be mouthing, the script and screenplay are about as deep as the lyrics of an ’N Sync song. The only convincing performances come from Kartheiser, who plays a role that is the exact opposite of his real-life personality, and Murphy, who manages not to drop his accent for most of the film.
The Final Verdict: In Time plays out like Robin Hood, the X-Men, the Twilight cast and the Occupy protesters went to a rave party, woke up in a heap on a desert, and then tried to tell the story to their friends.