In Time, 2011, USA
I watched this film primarily because the premise of it intrigued me. I love the dystopian film and literary genre, and, while the film received very mixed reviews, I thought I’d give it a chance.
Will (Justin Timberlake) and his mom (Olivia Wilde) live in the ghetto of a world where time is currency. Humans stop aging at age 25, but must continually replenish their time, because they die if their clocks run to zero. When Will saves a man with over 100 years on his clock (Matt Bomer), the man gives his time to Will. When Will enters high class society with a desire to destroy the system, he meets Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of a millionaire bank owner (Vincent Kartheiser). When timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy) comes to arrest Will, he takes Sylvia hostage and goes on the lam.
The premise was, indeed very interesting. In fact, I loved the idea of the film. The execution was rather flawed. There were a series of very heavy-handed and overly manipulative moments throughout the course of the film. I knew precisely what would happen at these moments, and I’m sure much of the audience would too. The first half hour of the film was generally pretty good, mostly because it served as an introduction to this nightmare world. However, once Will is on the lam, the movie goes downhill pretty quickly. It kept my attention, but it did so grudgingly.
I think it would have been better if the film had stayed away from the “running away from the law” premise and stuck more with the class differences and the struggles to survive in a world where time is currency. That stuff was genuinely interesting. The movie was torn between wanting to make powerful commentary on our society and wanting to be an action/thriller. In the end, it fails at being all three.
That being said, Timberlake gave a pretty good performance. He has shown me, a few times, that he is a capable actor. I believe this is his first leading role I’ve seen, and he did a good job. Many years ago, I had written him off because I wasn’t a fan of his solo music. I’m still not a fan of his music (though he does have a few catchy tunes), but he’s a charismatic presence on screen, and a talented guy. Seyfried wasn’t bad either, but her character was written very poorly. She didn’t have a whole lot of complexity, and the changes to her character over the course of the film felt very forced by the writers.
This film could have been so much more. I didn’t hate it, but I felt very disappointed by it. I should have known better: after all, I had read the reviews beforehand.