“In Time” Won’t Completely Waste Yours

There are few things more satisfying than being pleasantly surprised by something that you genuinely thought was going to suck.

As I sat down to watch In Time, which comes out on DVD Tuesday and stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, my expectations were low. Apart from being an *Nsync fan when I was five years old and the group was actually popular, I have never really liked Timberlake as a musician or an actor and Seyfried’s appeal has always alluded me. However, the concept of In Time intrigued me, so I was at least interested in the events that would follow as the opening credits began.

In Time most acutely falls under the monicker of science-fiction, taking place in a seemingly modern American ghetto. However, in this world, time (equating life-span) has become currency; everybody stops ageing at 25 and the green clock imbedded in their left forearm begins to count down. At this time, they have one year on their clock and when their clock reaches zero, they instantly die. Time can be transferred from person-to-person by touching right forearms, or it can be transferred into machines. No attempts are made to explain how the world got this way or how the technology functions, but one key element of the system is made very clear: “For a few to be immortal, many must die.”

The concept is truly brutal and gripping due to the incredibly high stakes; the poor literally live day-to-day, waking up in the morning with a clock that has far less than 24 hours and are burdened by the cost of living rising constantly. We often see characters worn down to only a few seconds, and as the audience watches the clock the tension is palpable. I found myself physically uncomfortable watching some scenes due to the tension, which I consider high praise. The audience also feels the proper distaste for the incredibly wealthy characters who have thousands of years yet never seem to truly live a day.

However, beyond the truly great concept, the film does falter. The characters are not very compelling and seem mostly one-dimensional. Cillain Murphy’s character, a “Time Keeper” who polices time, had some potential, but his development is a lost opportunity. Also, as the audience acclimatizes to the harsh rules by which this world functions, the tension of the film begins to drop off and, despite the film creators’ best efforts, the most intense scene occurs early on.

The costumes of the film are fantastic, marred only by the uniforms of the Time Keepers, who are dressed like rejects from The Matrix. Amanda Seyfried’s clothing especially stands out and the black dress that she wears for a fair section of the film is a gorgeous blend of the classic and the modern, fitting the film’s aesthetic perfectly. However, some of the cast do not look 25, which is an issue in a film where everyone is supposed to stop ageing at that time. Murphy, for example, is 35 while Timberlake is 30. It’s not a major flaw in the film as it is plausible that a 25-year-old could look like that, but it’s a mild annoyance when the actor is well known and the audience can easily see the physical signs of age.

While the film tries to be a thriller, the special-effects are lacklustre. The first half of the film features an unconvincing and physically impossible car crash and most of the action comes from on-foot pursuits. The trouble is that watching Justin Timberlake run with Amanda Seyfried in tow (somehow keeping up with him in 4” heels) while being chased by Cillian Murphy is only interesting for so long and the abundance of chase scenes overstay their welcome.

Essentially, the best part about the film is the world in which it is set, and while the movie successfully weaves a plot about the gluttony of the wealthy and uprising of the common man, the plot is not more compelling than the setting. The film relies on its premise to carry it, which is an indication that, somewhere along the films production, a very interesting and original idea was used to crank out a film that could be a mild Hollywood success. A more character driven, human, and powerful plot could have easily taken place in the film’s universe, but an action flavour was chosen instead. So while I was pleasantly surprised by the entertainment value of the film and how clever it could be, it’s not a shock it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.

The DVD itself is very basic; special features include trailers for up-and-coming film and DVD releases as well as a few extended and deleted scenes, nothing more. Both the audio and video quality are what you would expect from a DVD, though beware watching it on a larger screen as the quality is obviously not the same as Blu-ray.

Overall, watching In Time is not a bad way to spend two hours. It’s not Shakespeare, but if you’re looking for a thriller with a twist and a lot of time puns (neighbourhoods are called “time zones”) I would recommend it.

Rating: B

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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for NerdReactor.com and lives in snowy Canada.