In Time has good premise, lacks engaging storytelling

In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried and directed by Andrew Niccol, had all the makings of becoming a big hit.  It had a good cast and an intriguing premise with a lot of potential.  However, all the elements of a first-rate movie cannot make up for poor execution.

The movie is set in a world where time is the form of currency.  People stop aging at 25, at which point their internal clocks are activated, essentially counting down to their deaths.  Everyone starts out with one year on their glowing digital countdown clocks, which is illuminated on their forearms.  Although one year may seem like a good amount to start off with, time must be used to buy food, shelter, and other necessities, so it gets drained pretty quickly.  The addition of rampant crime does not help matters, for stealing time is very common.  In fact, the main character, Will Salas, played by Timberlake, is robbed of much of his time on his 25th birthday.

Salas, like most of the population, lives in Dayton.  Dayton is like a ghetto, and is therefore dangerous; crime lords control and hoard much of the time and function as loan sharks.  People are so poor that it is not uncommon for someone to take out a loan for a few hours just to work for wages that will provide time for the next day.  Most people work at factories that pay meager wages, so the denizens of Dayton are in constant debt.  Death is also commonplace; there are bodies lying on the streets because of clocks that have “timed out.”

Beyond Dayton is New Greenwich, a city where the rich live.  The residents of New Greenwich don’t have to constantly monitor their clocks like the poor because once they turn 25, they can be given 100 years easily from their parents.  While the lives of the poor revolve around making enough time to live another day, the rich spend their days throwing lavish parties and living ostentatiously.

The plot line of In Time is reminiscent to Robin Hood.  Salas tries to bring justice by giving the poor more time.  As such, his running away from the authorities takes up most of the screen time.

Although the air of danger makes for great action scenes, Niccol uses them to make up for his dull writing, which creates a lackluster viewing experience.

In Time offers a great buildup for a thought-provoking movie.  Unfortunately, the premise of In Time is the only part of the movie that is well written.  Unless you don’t mind the absence of an engaging plot, In Time is a film you should definitely avoid.

2 out of 5 stars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *