Whilst he hasn’t done many films, the name Andrew Niccol creates a level of excitement. From his directorial debut Gattaca to his screenplay of The Truman Show, Niccol is a fine storyteller of dystopian sci-fi and certainly in comparison with recent works like Transformers 3, he might as well be Philip K. Dick. With his latest film, we see a future in which everyone stops aging at twenty-five, which may sound great for those who are getting on, but as always the future is dark.
Once the aging process stops, you would only have a year to live, unless you start working for more time, as oppose to the rich who have enough time to live forever. As for the blue-collar Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), he has been gifted one hundred years from a rich individual, but is then targeted by the Timekeepers. As a wanted man, Salas kidnaps Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) who’s a billionaire’s daughter, and together they attempt to break the system of time is currency.
With this intriguing premise (of which the author Harlan Ellison has accused the filmmakers of plagiarising his short story “Repent, Harlequin” Said the Ticktockman), In Time certainly echoes the themes from Gattaca, most notably the issue of class. To establish this world in which time is currency, the places you can spend your money are like 99-second stores and a bus ride would be worth an hour. In terms of the design, the film has a retro influence in as much as many of the vehicles are very Knight Rider and the Timekeepers who are the policeman of this time have long black leather jackets.
However, what it lacks from Niccol’s debut is the subtle drama as after the first act which sets up this retro-futuristic world and turn of events for our hero, the story turns into a conventional chase movie with a number of Bonnie & Clyde-esque moments that seem out of sync to the dark concept.
Despite the Bonnie & Clyde reference, Timberlake/Seyfried ain’t no Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Since The Social Network, Timberlake has established himself as a fine actor and he certainly shines here as a blue-collar worker with the chance of a lifetime, although once he becomes a Robin Hood-like hero, he’s not as interesting as he was in the beginning. Despite being really good in a number of teen flicks, Amanda Seyfried is disappointingly bland as the rich daughter gone rogue and her chemistry with her co-star, there is none.
If you’re going to expect a companion piece with the far more thought-provoking Gattaca, you are going to be very disappointed as In Time is a disposable actioner with at least the promise of a clever sci-fi story.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: ANDREW NICCOL
STARRING: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, AMANDA SEYFRIED, CILLIAN MURPHY, OLIVIA WILDE, ALEX PETTYFER
RUNTIME: 115 MINS