Monday, 31 October 2011

In Time review

Justin Timberlake stars in this sci-fi actioner where everyone is permanently frozen at 25 years old, like living with Hugh Hefner.

We’re transported into this high-concept world by writer-director Andrew Niccol, who brought us the dystopias of Gattaca and The Truman Show. This is one of his lesser works but the premise is still juicy. In a genetically engineered future, humans are programmed for that quarter century, after which you only have one year to live, indicated by a fluorescent count-down timer embedded in your arm. Now you can pay for extra living time, hence a satirical vision of society where the rich accumulate thousands of years and are immortally frozen as they looked at 25. And the poor…die. A sudden jolt in your chest where your timer runs down, you ‘time out’.

The Timberlake is Will Salas, a grafter in the ghetto permanently living hand-to-mouth with never more than a day of life on the clock. His mother is played by Olivia Wilde, which is a good gag as the actress is 27 and Justin is himself 30 now. Life in the ghetto is squalid, with people dying in the street when their time comes; a junkland of pawn shops and gangsters that is ruled over by time keepers, led by Cillian Murphy’s Raymond.

Yes just like in Gattaca everyone is fab looking.

Talking of which, the story really kicks off where Salas busts out of the ghetto after a man with a hundred years to spare (and on the clock) mysteriously decides he wants to die and transfers his time to Salas. Arriving in New Greenwich (time gag!) where the rich live in ivory towers, Will bumps into beautiful heiress Sylvia, played by Amanda Seyfried of those huge saucer-like eyes.

He takes her hostage and her Daddy is an evil industrialist with millions of years stored in his vault. Played with blue-blooded superciliousness by Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser, it’s a nice bit of casting; the baby faced actor portraying a man with over a hundred years experience.

And that’s pretty much it. There is lots of running and shooting and chasing around in vintage cars. Do you think Sylvia will get a bit saucy with Will even though she hates him at the start? What happens with In time is the interesting set-up becomes repetitive and what you get a sort of grungy science-fiction Bonnie and Clyde, with lashings of Robin Hood.

It is entertaining stuff, particularly at the start when you have lots of time gags, like 99 Second stores and people moaning about the price of living: “4 mins for a cup of coffee!” Hey, time is money. It also feels like a film that could have been made on a huge budget but hasn’t been, which in a way is no bad thing. The only real special effects are the embedded time clocks, giving rise to an especially decisive version of arm wrestling, where you can literally squeeze your opponent’s life away - nice.

In the end though, ironically for a script about time, it starts to drag in the middle and you glance at your own watch, not pondering life-minutes eking away (that would be overstating it) but glancing nonetheless.

In time is released on November 1st 2011 (1.11.11)

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