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Film Review: In Time

14th November 2011

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Written and directed by Andrew NiccolIn Time is set in the year 2161, a future where time has taken over as the world’s currency. At the age of 25 a person stops ageing, but the fluorescent green clock fitted into their arm starts ticking giving them only one more year to live. From then on they must work for more time if they wish to carry on living, but it’s not as easy for those outside of New Greenwich who live off hours rather than years.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the ghetto, a time zone where people live day-to-day, working their hardest to make it even through the night. When a stranger gives Will over a century of life, he becomes determined to change this way of living and heads to the richest timezone in a Robin Hood fashion – he must steal from the rich and give to poor. However, timekeeper Raymond (Cillian Murphy) is on his trail accusing him of murder, forcing Will to kidnap millionaire and time-loaning businessman Phillipe Weis’ (Vincent Kartheiser) daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), and take her hostage to protect his own life.

Full of roof top chases, car flips and gun fights, In Time sets itself up to be an action film, but it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. The car flips are flimsy, and the roof top chases often comprise of Timberlake dragging around an impressionable Seyfried who’s trailing behind. But these weaknesses don't prevent In Time being a good film, at least in the sense that the story around these characters is constantly interesting.

The film has a good cast, more so with the smaller roles including best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki) and Will’s mother (Olivia Wilde) who are engrossing in their roles, far from the ones that are expected of them; Galecki doesn’t live up to his geeky stereotype and Wilde plays a character twice her age, and for this they both exceed.

Timberlake and Seyfried, as well, put in strong perfromances. Seyfried especially prevails

Unfortunately, the performances are let-down by a weak script meaning, with Timberlake lacking his usual charm.

In Time is an undoubtedly smart film, but one of its main downfalls is a lack of explanation. Placing itself in a future that is all too familiar to the world we live in, we are provided with no background as to how it has evolved to be this way.

It doesn’t reflect on its futuristic setting either, which asks us to accept an undeveloped future. In this sense, the plot doesn’t work as it seems to have been given no more thought then, “let’s swap money for time.”

In Time would have worked a lot better if it was set in a present yet alternative world, as then we could have more easily accepted this premise. But setting itself a hundred years from now, we must consider it as a possible world, which a good writer would have expanded upon.

Many of In Time's flaws come from a lack of detail. The main question that needs to be is asked is why are the residents of the ghetto so ready to accept their fate of running out of time? Accepting death means a lack of threat, with people willing to fall down dead then to steal a couple of minutes from a passerby. The characters are very naive, probably because they don’t know any better, but to an audience this only weakens any engagement that we have with the story.

Despite all of this, I would recommend to watch and enjoy it.

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