In Time (2011)


THE SCOOP
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin TimberlakeAmanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde
Plot: In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage - a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system.

Genre: Crime/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Awards: -
Runtime: 109min
Rating: PG13 for violence, some sexualty and partial nudity, and strong language.

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IN RETROSPECT
Andrew Niccol, who famously made his name as the writer-director of Gattaca (1997), a clever futurist, sci-fi film that is also a strong critique against advances in technology, now directs In Time, a film that thematically echoes Gattaca.

While conceptually bolder, the film suffers from not being able to fulfill its great potential, proving to be only averagely satisfying. That being said, In Time tries to blend a blockbuster-oriented style with Niccol’s auteurial touch. It’s more uniquely executed than the average blockbuster, but it is far from a being an excellent film.

Starring Justin Timberlake, who now has a newfound fondness for acting, and Amanda Seyfried, who has an extreme makeover, In Time has a premise that goes like this: In a world where everyone is genetically programmed to stop ageing at 25, and has to literally buy time to continue living, Will Salas (Timberlake) is forced to take matters into his own hands when he finds himself with too much time literally on his hands. It is indeed an intriguing plot when audiences read it as a socio-political commentary on today’s society of greed, selfishness and widening income gap.

Shot by the acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins, In Time features outstanding art direction and set design, both of which are influenced by modern sci-fi films such as Dark City (1998). Some of the scenes are also a tribute to other popular sci-fi films like The Matrix (1999) in a rooftop chase, and The Terminator (1984), where a large vehicle is driven straight into a building. 

Still, In Time is very much Niccol’s own, not only in its mood and style, but in its satirical look at how humans are bounded by the limits of technology and genetics.

The action sequences are well-executed, and suspense is built to considerable levels in several key scenes where characters are running. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t quite run when it should be; it stagnates at some parts. There are problems with pacing, with the lack of urgency the main flaw. 

After all, this is an action-thriller, and what audiences need is a potent dose of prolonged suspense. The stakes are not raised high enough for the lead characters, and this is mostly due in part to their vague motivations and characterizations.

In Time tries its best to entertain, and it does, but only in moments. The concept behind this film is near-brilliant, but Niccol wastes it along the way, never fulfilling its promise. Despite its flaws, In Time remains to be a biting look at the society we live in today. Only if it was a tad more entertaining and involving.

GRADE: B-
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