|"ticking away with my sanity"|
Let me paint you a picture: it's the future or something, and someone - somehow - Science'd away the part of our genetics that makes us grow old and die, and in its place Science'd in a luminescent countdown clock which grows along the length of your forearm somehow. It's an internal clock, too, not some shackle or elaborate Pip Boy-style watch they're forced to wear. Why? Because here's the twist! At the age of 25 you stop aging and your clock starts ticking down...you now have one year to live.
Time is now the world's currency; people earn, trade, spend and steal their remaining days, hours and minutes like the rest of us do money. The only catch is there's no overdraft protection...if your clock hits zero for any reason you will drop dead where you stand. The rich wander around comfortably with decades to spare while the poor work, steal and fight for extra hours ... and suddenly, the phrase "living day to day" takes on a whole new meaning.
I know, right? Doesn't that sound freaking awesome? It's everything you want in a dystopian future science fiction story! But that's the problem. It's not lacking at least an interesting concept. No, really. The concept is so cool. It's every step of its execution that spoils the fun.
For starters, they never really establish any of the rules governing the use of Time in this universe, and that seriously bothers me as a viewer. A story -- especially a Science Fiction story -- can't just throw stuff at the audience, it needs rules so everyone can be on the same page, understanding the benefits and limits of the characters and situations so every action makes sense. For example, how is it even possible for someone to actively steal your time? I'm not talking the metaphorical "Ugh, that conversation was a waste of time," I mean people in this world are literally capable of holding someone's hand and draining their Life Clock to the death-point while unconscious. Adding to it too, actually. Rich or poor, you'd think there would be at least a rudimentary password-protected fail-safe of some sort to ensure that sort of nonsense doesn't take place.
Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, while both really boring, spend probably half the film Robin Hood-ing around, stealing Time from the Time Loan Bank Stores Or Whatever and giving it away to the poor sectors. So they're clearly supposed to be the heroes, right?
But then there's the Time Keepers, a special police force who govern the spending and passing of time, ensuring each Time Zone remains within its limits, whatever that means. The thieves are disrupting the system and are about to bring everything crashing down, flawed as it may be. After all, the poor struggling to make ends meet and just dying all over each other would appear to be an integral part of the system. As suggested early in the film, "if everyone lived forever, where would we put them?"
So are the Time Keepers the heroes now? It's clear Timberlake's character doesn't seem to grasp this concept and is only interested in making sure his class of people aren't dying in the streets; which ... I mean, yes, that's the noblest of goals; but he's really only causing more harm than good, as the rich keep raising the costs of everything to get the stolen time back. He quickly becomes fully aware his actions are only making things worse but his solution is to go on stealing even more. His actions are only driving the poor sectors he's trying to save and protect further into anarchy.
I'm all for a story where everyone more or less is morally gray. It can make for some damn good characters and even better writing. The problem with In Time is how much gray we have to look at. Aside from the Evil Corporations Who Own Millions Of Years And Are Evil I can't see a clear hero or villain to root for and wish failure upon, respectively.
To me, the funniest thing about the movie is how horrible the pacing is. For a movie about the preciousness of time, it rushes about from point to point and scene to scene and has no real sense of time passing whatsoever.
Constantly we'll be shown a shot of the lead duo's Arm Clocks of Doom with no more than a few minutes remaining, and somehow manage to make the surely several-minute run down a few blocks to the local pawn shop with time to spare, plus an argument on the way to toss in some extra tension. That's not an exaggeration.
Right at the end, both leads find themselves just standing there after the final confrontation with less than 20 seconds (how they lost the 30+ years they had the scene before they forget to mention but whatever). They run up a steep hill to get a wireless transfer in less time it would take me to walk from my couch to the bathroom. I should mention only Timberlake makes it to the car, and has to run back downhill because Seyfried is lagging behind for some reason, painfully trying to mimic his earlier failure to save another in a similar fashion.
It's just ... there's creating a sense of urgency for the sake of excitement at the climax, and then there's pulling off an actual living miracle for the sake of a happy ending!
|"We'd be so much faster with roller skates!"|
I've finished some really lame movies where all I can really talk about is how it would have made for really interesting mini-series, or even a regular series hoping to catch on and have a long run. Too much time passes, too many characters show up and drop off only to come back for a second or two of minute relevance. There's a serious sense this could have been actually watchable, even decent had its story been stretched over a number of episodes.
There's a living, breathing world that could have been explored at incredible depth, supporting characters who could have been afforded development and screen time, the grandiose economy plot seen with more focus from all sides. I liked the idea being described, I even liked the scene where Seyfried and Timberlake first officially meet: the man she's with noticing Timberlake's interest in her and his comment is along the lines of, "I know what you're thinking. Is she my mother, sister, daughter? ... It used to be so much easier, once upon a time." That's just so awesome and I don't even know how to explain why.
Needless to say, In Time really isn't worth your time. There, can I stop peppering this review with time-related puns? I'm barely even trying here.