Dir. Andrew Niccol
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 109mins
Madonna once sang that “time goes by so slowly.” Time does indeed go by so slowly, but so does In Time. Madonna’s timely chart-topping hit song about the tick tock of a time-taking clock was actually quite ahead of its time. Writer/director Andrew Niccol can only make a wish in time that In Time is as timely as that. Time and time again In Time fumbles its message of making the most of the time we’ve got. If we didn’t have much time left should be rob banks and rebel against the time-honoured traditions of society? That's a slippery slope of grey moral hypothesising. In Time suggests yes. How timely given the (some may say, waste of time) “occupy” protests.
In Time stars Justin Timberlake as a low class citizen who works in a factory manufacturing time. He lives in a future where time of the essence and people only age until they’re 25 years old, from which point they survive on time. Time is literally money here with people being paid in time (a day of time for a day of work) and pay for items with time (a bus ride costs two hours of time, a hotel room costs one week of time) and so on. The “haves” (they “come from time” not money, oh chortle) and the “have-nots” are divided by giant walls (another poorly played, yet timely, reference to modern day politics in Arizona nonsense, yes?) and it costs time to cross over. People in the ghetto rob people of their time, so when a suicidal millionaire (or is that a centuryaire?) decides to unload all of his time onto Timberlake’s lowly factory worker it’s about time for some timely rebellion from the ghetto.
Maybe more of this would make sense if I stopped trying to insert the word “time” in here as many times as humanly possible. Really though, it’s all In Time’s fault. Characters say the word “time” so often that it loses all meaning. “How much time do we have?”, “What time is it?”, “Give me some of your time!” and so on, time and time again. The word time loses all meaning. Maybe if In Time chose to explain it’s own time-centric science rather than having its characters perform ill-timed stunts (how does a convertible tumble roll down an embankment and not injure those inside? The somehow finds a way) then the end product would be better. Niccol seems intent on spending as little time as possible explaining his own ideas. Even down to the question of what time In Time is set in! Other than “the future”, there’s no answer given at any time. At what time did people start being born with these time codes embedded into their arms? Was this a failed time experiment? The ambiguity is maddening and ends up feeling like somebody was tinkering with too much time in the editing suite and it never comes together in any coherent way.
Elsewhere amongst In Time’s very hip, now cast (that’s the beauty of making a movie where people don’t age above 25, although that doesn’t explain Cillian Murphy, Johnny Palecki, Matt Bomer or Vincent Katheiser who look like time has not been kind to their 25-year-old faces) are the very dull-faced Olivia Wilde, as well as Amanda Seyfried doing her time-perfected wide-eyed, vague Scarlett Johansson impersonation. Seyfried’s character is particularly baffling as she, by film’s end, ends up in life-or death chase sequences on foot wearing stripper heels and corset tops. Bless costume designer Colleen Atwood for having an aneurism during that thought process. Justin Tim(e)berlake’s performance is, in conjunction with Friends with Benefits, surely makes him a Razzie frontrunner, no? Time will tell.
Niccol’s screenplay is full of far more clangers than time permits me to reel off. As it is, all I’ve gotten out of In Time is a bunch of time gags and time puns that I don’t have the time to mention. You probably shouldn’t waste your time on In Time. Time. D+
(and yes, I used a variation on the word "time" 101 times. yikes.)