Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Time - Movie review

Looking for a slick, stylish, and futuristic movie along the lines of The Matrix or The Adjustment Bureau? In Time races against the clock to place itself next to these and other similar movies. Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried and directed by Andrew Niccol, this film tries to make every second count, but is the end result worth your time, or does the clock run out on this thriller?

In Time shows us a future where the world's currency involves how much time one has left to live. At 25, your body stops aging and a one year clock starts ticking on what will be the rest of your life. Days are filled with working towards gaining more time and you also spend that time like it was money.

The poor working class literally live day to day while a privileged few strive to obtain immortality by hoarding every available second. Will Salas (Timberlake) is given a century's worth of opportunity to be the Robin Hood of his time and, after escaping a captive situation by kidnapping the daughter (Seyfried) of a wealthy business man, ends up on a Bonnie and Clyde style spree of bank robberies.

While Will and his captive-turned-partner Sylvia continue their well intended crime spree, they are being hunted by a posse of "Time Keepers" lead by Raymond Leon. Played by Cillian Murphy, Raymond has the air of someone who has been at the job for many years and has knowledge of Will's departed father that implies he may have gone down the same path Will now finds himself travelling.

To make matters even more interesting, Will and Sylvia are also being hunted by an underworld enforcer named Fortis (played by Alex Pettyfer) who has an idea of just how Will obtained his extra years and along with his evil henchmen, looks to take them for himself. Both Will and Fortis are adept at a form of fighting that is similar to arm wrestling where the winner takes some or even all the time from the other so a showdown between the two is inevitable.

From the beginning we get an idea that Will has a past that isn't squeaky clean and that his mother (Olivia Wilde) has set him on a better path. We also are given hints about his father's past from vague references made by Raymond although neither of these points are ever really given much light. The overall theme of the movie is one of the rich using the poor to their own end, in this case immortality, which seems very relevant in today's financial climate.

Visually, the movie is very clean and stylized. There are lots of tailored suits and fancy cars and a portion of the movie is spent in fancy hotels and mansions. Even when we are spending time in the working class neighborhoods, you still get an idea that there has been many generations of genetic selection going on. The main characters here are pretty likable and they are all sufficiently glossy even after running away from the scene of a crashed vehicle or having been shot at and beat up.

The story is interesting and has some cool elements to it, but you never really feel like it gets anywhere or reaches any real depth. There are a lot of points where emotions could be drawn out or societal themes could really be taken on, but it seems the visual appeal of the film was more of a focus than creating a compelling drama.

Justin Timberlake does a pretty good job taking the lead role of a major picture in spite of the material he is given and his road to becoming a bankable star stalls out but doesn't get completely derailed. One issue I have with his character is that he seems to have significant training in combat and espionage, but we have no idea where it came from or why he has these skills. It just seems way too easy for a guy who worked a manual labor job to all of a sudden become a John McClane or Jason Bourne style hero.

The rest of the cast is good but seems to be in cruise control throughout the entire picture. Cillian Murphy does the best job of bringing a good amount of emotion to the role and you end up rooting for him just as much as the fugitive heroes. The one person I would like to have seen more of was Olivia Wilde, but that seems to be the case no matter what she is doing.

This all makes for a decent time at the movies, but probably not something you will talk about or remember much of after leaving the theater. Lacking originality and any real depth, we are left with a fun yet forgettable experience and you may wish, just like many characters in the movie, your time spent had been held to a higher value than what it is ultimately given.

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