Justin Timberlake has been soaring through the celebrity world since his days of 90s pop music. He has impressed teenage girls with his marionette-like dancing abilities. He has wowed the New York twenty-somethings with his multiple appearences on Saturday Night Live. And he finally snuck his way into my mother’s heart with his performance in The Social Network. It is this success that surprises me about his decision to play the leading role in such a disappointing film.
The title of In Time hints at what this film is full to the brim of: puns about time. Phrases like “don’t waste my time,” “quality time,” and “minuteman” take on new meaning in this film starring Justin Timberlake as Will Salas, a man who is living one day at a time. The film takes place in a dystopian future where people only age for twenty-five years and are engineered to only live for the following year. After that, they are living on time they have borrowed, stolen, or earned, because time is actually money and money is time in this world. How perfect is that premise for a Hollywood film? The characters stop aging at age 25, so every member of the cast is young, gorgeous, and recognizable. Some of the casting choices seem almost too good to be true. Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) plays Will’s mother, celebrating her 50th birthday at the start of the movie. Tall, blonde, and handsome Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) is a gangster at the ripe old age of 75 and the elusive Matt Boomer (White Collar) is…wait for it…gearing up to pass 105.
The opening scene of the film will set the stage for the next hour and forty-nine minutes: a pulsating soundtrack, an extreme close-up on the vibrant green, ticking clock on a forearm, and a shirtless Timberlake stretching as the voiceover says, “I don’t have time.” The story follows Will Salas through his ordinary morning that turns into an extraordinary evening when he saves the life of Henry Hamilton (Boomer), a man who will change the course of both their lives overnight. Salas is the perfect human being – he has no faults because everything he does is for the greater good. He has no fears, nothing holding him back, and does not want to see anyone die, not even the guys hell-bent on ending his life.
Writer and director Andrew Niccol created an action movie with a script made up of mostly short, simple sentences, the unnecessary shooting of guns, and a plentitude of dramatic deaths. Most of the females in the film appear to be prostitutes and Sylvia Weis (Seyfried), heiress to millions of years, runs around in impossibly high heels with hair that does not move one inch out of place no matter how many times she swims, jumps, or comes close to dying. However, there were a few romantic moments that deviated from the structure of a classic action film. While speedy chases in nice cars with people dressed to the nines is very much a Bond allusion, there were some gentler moments between the two main characters that seemed more along the lines of a ‘RomCom’ than Sci-Fi crime thriller it is labeled as.
The film feels like a stereotypical Hollywood concoction – big names, big stunts, old ideas, and little substance. In Time is reminiscent of a few of the short stories in Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, and the classic tales of Robin Hood and Bonnie and Clyde. The plot is predictable while still being exciting, but it does have a few holes. You can either choose to fill in those holes with your own assumptions or you can leave the movie theater feeling irritated and wanting more.
If you are looking for a fun, exciting way to spend an evening, In Time is a safe bet. You could swim in the rivers of Justin Timberlake’s abs, the multiple chase scenes will keep you awake, and the holes in the plot can easily be filled if you can pick up on blatantly obvious context clues. However, I send you to the movies with this final grain of salt: the characters will talk about ‘fighting’ a lot. Fighting is when two people struggle over stealing one another’s time. When you see actual fighting, you will be disappointed to realize it is just very calm event where two men try to give each other a very gentle ‘Indian burn.’
6 out of 10
Review by Sarah Porter