“In Time” is one cool movie.
With the sexiness and panache of a James Bond film and the political and philosophical ingenuity of an Orwellian allegory, “In Time” is a smart, stylish sci-fi adventure.
The comparisons to the 1976 classic “Logan’s Run” are undeniable. “In Time” takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles where everyone is genetically altered to have a lifespan of 25 years. Once you reach your 25th birthday, an imprinted clock on your arm begins a countdown for one year. When time runs out, you die.
Director/writer Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”) takes the “Logan’s Run” trope a step further. Time is also used as currency. A shot of whiskey, a bus or a night with a prostitute literally takes time off your life. With time as currency, there are rich people and poor – those with mere minutes left to live and those with centuries. People gamble, steal cheat and murder for more time.
Justin Timberlake is Will Salas, a 28 year-old man struggling day to day to keep his and his mother’s (Olivia Wilde) time from running out. When Salas saves a stranger’s (Matt Bomer) life he is given the gift of a hundred years and a nasty secret about the rich elite. Intent on collapsing the imbalanced society and redistributing the wealth, or time, to those less fortunate, Salas becomes a futuristic Robin Hood.
What acting credibility Timberlake gained with “The Social Network” is absent here. Timberlake’s Salas comes across as wooden, lacking his usual suaveness. Amanda Seyfried is delightfully punchy as Salas’ hostage and daughter of ‘eon-aire’ Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser). The more interesting character in the film is the ‘time keeper’ (Cillian Murphy), the conflicted detective hunting Timberlake and Seyfried.
“In Time” is a nice respite from the recent onslaught of loud sci-fi clunkers. The film’s focus is more on story with little help from the special effects. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins’s lensing brings a realistic and sophisticated feel to the film recently absent in the genre.
The film is far from perfect, though. Time is a fickle device, creating some occasional inconsistencies in the plot.
Like Niccol’s “Gattaca,” “In Time” presents us with questions about mortality, politics and money, all in the form of a glamorous thrill-ride.