In Time utilizes an interesting concept that also makes it inherently difficult to digest. The idea that time itself is the only currency isn’t the hard part to grasp – it’s the way that people distribute it amongst themselves that raises questions. The film foregoes most explanation, which perhaps helps to blanket the dubious events, but also forces the discerning viewer to pick apart more than they might have done otherwise.
At least the suspenseful adventure that the film prioritizes offers solid entertainment and heightened immediacy – just as long as the film’s running time doesn’t outlast your suspension of disbelief. In a futuristic world where time is the most valuable commodity, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) finds himself the recipient of a staggering sum from a “rich” stranger who no longer values his overabundance of time – his apparent immortality. With dangerous thieves that rule the ghettos intent on acquiring his new inheritance, and a “Timekeeper” police officer (Cillian Murphy) hot on his trail, Will kidnaps Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of a powerful finance magnate, to aid in his plan to restore balance to a corrupt system and its tyrannical hold over human life.
The nouveau riche embarks on high-stakes games of chance and flights from the authorities, intent on living each minute to the fullest and redistributing the unbalanced societal wealth. The film has a premise that is just too silly for its own good (which incidentally raised a plagiarism lawsuit by author Harlan Ellison, stating that the plot is based on his award-winning 1965 short story, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman). Although the story could have been approached with greater sincerity, writer/director Andrew Niccol wasn’t overly concerned with recreating the dark, contemplative, believable science-fiction tone of his more brilliant, earlier work Gattaca (1997).
This piece is too polished, bright, bloodless, predicament-free and pumped with Hollywood stars and glamor to establish a genuinely dystopian/totalitarian future, governed by Matrix-like cops and the youthful upper crust. Resultantly, the accidental laughs occur quite frequently, even though comic relief is purposely inserted and time-is-money puns and jokes are present (Wilde is a mother, coffee costs four minutes, 59 years… plus tax for a nice ride, the corner building is a 99 Second store). The environment doesn’t get a visual update to match the genetic technology advances, but the cinematography is still effective. The CG (most notably in a car crash) is largely substandard, Murphy plays his role with a faithful veracity like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, and Seyfried takes her dialogue so seriously that even when she’s supposed to emote sarcasm, she delivers her lines determinedly.
The romance could have been convincing had there been time to develop it, the similarities to Robin Hood and Bonnie and Clyde are annoying at best, and Seyfried’s nonstop running and stunts in high heels draws attention to her conspicuously unlikely mobility. In Time is simply too funny to be the intense, action-packed thriller it wants to be. – The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)