In Time

5 Dec

Title: In Time
Year: 2011
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Vincent Kartheiser, Johnny Galecki, Matt Bommer, Sasha Pivovarova
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language
Runtime: 109 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

 

Andrew Niccol’s films are always very much out there as far as how inventive they are. His debut, Gattaca, is a stunning film, one of the best sci-fi movies of the modern era; he followed that up with his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, a masterpiece; then came S1m0ne, a film that was nowhere near as great but that still showed this was a guy with a hugely creative vision; and finally 2007’s Lord of War, one of the best Nicolas Cage performances of recent years and a smart, though underwhelming, exploration of the gun trade. Now, six years years after Lord of War, Mr. Niccol is back to the sci-fi genre, and even though this is certainly no Gattaca, it still has a premise that is just fascinating, and a cast full of really cool people to bring it to life.

I actually really liked In Time, much more than what the 38% approval grade in Rotten Tomatoes had me fearing that I would. I mean the storytelling and metaphors that are given to us here are nowhere up to par with the ones we got in Gattaca and certainly in The Truman Show, but even if the execution wasn’t masterful, you can’t help but be provoked deep in your mind by the premise alone. If you haven’t heard about it yet, start concentrating because it’s typical Niccol-y mind-bending-ness: In the near future, to avoid over-populating the world, time has replaced money. You have a clock in your arm that will last until you become twenty-five, after that you get one more year to live in order to get more time to live, whether it’s by working for it or stealing it. That makes everyone look the same age, which would explain why Matt Bommer is supposedly a one-hundred-year-old guy and why Olivia Wilde is Justin Timberlake’s mother. Awesome, right?

That’s the sort of plot I’ll always be into, and the likes of which Mr. Niccol is just so good at crafting. Because it’s just a really neat idea, think about it, only the rich can keep on living because they’re the ones that can buy time. Now, it’s kind of obvious that a film as complex as this one will have a few holes in its plot, and this one isn’t perfect therefore it suffers of that too, but it’s just directed in such a fast way, and with good acting and sleek production design that you can actually overlook all of the holes and just have a good time with it. It’s fun because the cast looks like they were all enjoying themselves, a cast full of young, beautiful people because that’s the point of the film (supermodel Sasha Pivovarova makes a cameo as a 130-year-old woman), and that with Justin Timberlake in the leading role finds a guy who actually dials back on the charisma that made him such a worthy part of last year’s masterpiece The Social Network, and instead focuses on giving a really nice performance that doesn’t overshadow the story but instead compliments it.

Mr. Timberlake is Will Salas, who we see having a conversation with Henry, a man played by the aforementioned Mr. Bommer who’s already in the triple-digits and has another century left in the bank. They start having a conversation of rather philosophical qualities, Henry’s apparently tired of living, you see, and eventually they both doze off. When Will wakes up, however, he finds something very odd: he has a hundred years he shouldn’t have in his clock. He looks around and sees Henry in a nearby bridge, apparently having transferred all of his time to Will and ready to take a leap. Will tries to save him, but instead fails and is only caught by cameras that make the police, called Timekeepers, be ready to frame him for Henry’s murder.

It’s obviously an allegory about time being money nowadays, there’s even our typical poker game scene here, but in this film when someone says he’s going all-in he means he’s betting his entire life, and if you call his bluff the guy drops dead. Amazing premise aside, that insanely inventive framework is filled with stuff we’ve been seeing in movies for ages, there are chases, there’s the handsome leading guy, the cold and slick villain played by Cillian Murphy, and the gorgeous love interest who gets dragged along for the ride, played by Amanda Seyfried, who’s the daughter of the richest man in the world, a guy who has centuries of centuries left in the bank. These are classical elements of films that look damn fresh under such creative circumstances.

Yes, there are a lot of questions here we don’t get answers to, mostly because if we did then the whole plot would fall to pieces, but don’t get picky, that stuff is easy to overlook here because you have a kick-ass premise, a film that looks sensationally good (courtesy of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins) and a cast full of people that make this one work because they make the crazy stuff they’re saying sound fun and plausible, if not at all compelling, led by Justin Timberlake who’s more than proven now that he’s the real deal as an actor. Look, it may not be Gattaca, but it’s certainly Mr. Niccol back in top form, and hopefully he’ll use this as momentum to really hit it out of the park next time he’s at bat (hard to imagine when his next project is an adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer novel, but still, let’s not lose our faith).

Grade: B+

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