In Time

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In TimeWe’re all familiar with actors. We see the commercial for the latest George Clooney movie and we think back to the previous film we saw him in or his last appearance on Letterman. Often times, a director/producer has to be a household name for you to think back to their previous films.

When I saw Andrew Niccol was the writer/director/producer of In Time, I recalled that he did the interesting sci-fi film Gattaca. I later found out he wrote The Truman Show, which I enjoyed.

That made it all the more frustrating to sit through this hot mess of a movie.

The timing couldn’t be better for these metaphors, as the 99% vs 1% are brewing in real life, we have a film where the rich people get to live forever, and the poor and middle-class are relegated to die at age 26. A clock somehow pops up on their arm when they turn 25, and it shows they have a year to live. This means some people beg for more time. Others bully and kill for their minutes. Some, like nice guy Justin Timberlake, seem to want to just give minutes to anybody approaching on the street.

When I’m watching guys give four minutes to buy a cup of coffee, I thought how this future would surely curb people of bad habits. It’s one thing to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day knowing you’re taking a decade off your life, but another thing when you literally see the minutes tick away when you make the purchase.

This all makes things a little confusing when we see the gorgeous Olivia Wilde as Timberlake’s mom. She’s 25 three times (that would be 75-years-old with the body/face of a 25-year-old). That kind of makes it hard for us to feel bad when she’s running out of minutes (which concluded with the goofiest scene I’ve in a movie all year).

Another actress with great eyes, Amanda Seyfried, plays the Patty Hearst type of love interest. Timberlake kidnaps her, and much like 3 Days of the Condor, the victim sympathizes and falls for the Robin Hoodesque bad guy.

Even though a few of the premises remind you of other movies – Logan’s Run and Bonnie & Clyde come to mind – it was a great concept for a film. It’s a shame they ran out of time before making a better screenplay. Instead, we get lame jokes like a “99 Second Store.” At that point, I was wondering when the soundtrack would give us songs like Minute by Minute, Time After Time, Time in a Bottle…oh, the possibilities are endless.

Maybe Niccol didn’t think those songs would work after his 83 puns thrown in (“time is money,” “clean your clock,” “Got a minute?”, “time on your hand,” and “minutes to spare,” among many.

I always think I’ll be disappointed when I see Timberlake in a movie and he always surprises me. I enjoyed him in Black Snake Moan and The Social Network – but this is one of his rare performances that didn’t work.

When Timberlake acquires some extra decades, after giving time away to the poor (and a best friend), he does a George Jefferson and moves on up to the nice part of town. He also buys a Jaguar XKE – my favorite car of all-time. And it leads to the first sci-fi movie pet peeve this had: classic cars used in the future. The cops (or “timekeepers”) all drive ‘60s muscle cars.

The film quickly becomes a series of car chases and one-note bad guys. The heavy-handed parallels get old quick, and the plot holes are glaring. I’m willing to let those things go if I like a movie more. The only thing this lame film was missing were the futuristic silver outfits people usually wear in the future (anybody else notice how nicely these folks dressed in the ghetto?)

If “time is money” as they keep saying in this, a lot of folks are going to leave wanting $25 bucks back for the two hours they wasted on something that would’ve worked better as a 30 minute Twilight Zone episode.

It gets 1 ½ out of 5 stars.

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