So Hollywood gives us an 80’s heartthrob and an 00’s heartthrob this week at the theater. We get Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary and Justin Timberlake in In time to do battle for your dollars. Let’s start first with the JT “sci-fi” film.
Sci-fi was in quotes right there because In Time wants, looks and sells itself as a science fiction film, but it isn’t. The film is a futuristic look where TIME is the currency. For the first 25 years of your life, you live a normal life. Then at age 25 you wake up and a clock is running in green on your arm. You have one year left unless you earn more time. Good part is though that you don’t age anymore, you look like age 25 for as long as you can earn time. Pretty neat concept that Philip K. Dick could be proud of. You work, instead of money you get more time. You can give people time or in some instances, take it from others. Instead of paying for your groceries, or taking the bus, whatever, it’s time. Sounds pretty good so far right?
Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas, your normal every day guy who gets up, works, earns his time. He’s older than 25 because he’s earned more time, but of course he looks 25. One night after work he sees a stranger in a bar with too much time on his hands. Henry Hamilton (White Collar’s Matt Bomer) is seen with too much time and Will helps him escape. They crash in a warehouse and Henry explains some things to Will. Will wakes up with Henry’s time and decides to leave the ghetto and live it up in the area with more time. There Will meets Sylvia Weiss (Amanda Seyfried), she comes from time yet falls for the mysterious new man. But soon Will is accused of stealing his new time by Timekeeper Raymond (Cillian Murphy) and a pursuit ensues. After taking her hostage, Will opens up Sylvia’s eyes to what exactly happens outside her small world. Add in another group of bad guys who want his time and Will and Sylvia run around Bonnie and Clyde style trying to escape the law and help others.
Now the biggest issue with the film is the complete slap in the face to intelligent people that is the “hidden” message of the film. If you couldn’t tell that TIME represented MONEY in the review, well I feel sorry for you. This science-fiction movie cloaks a political propaganda film that pretty much panders to every Occupy whatever city in the news. Those without time live in the ghetto and can die when they run out of time while those with more time than they can use live in lavish houses with fine clothing, food and cars. The poor need to work to survive while those who control the time distribution live for hundreds of years. And Will wants to be a modern day Robin Hood by taking time from those with plenty and giving it to those without. Yikes.
Message aside the film has other flaws. Timberlake has done well in supporting roles and SNL skits, but this is his first major lead role and maybe he shouldn’t have been the lead. There a few times where you can clearly see it was his stunt double and watching him trying to cry was painful. Bomer who is a leading man on TV should have been the Will character. Would it have been a better film? Who knows. Seyfried’s character lives a slow life who never has to run yet at the end she can fun full force on concrete with 5 inch heels, sorry not buying that. About the only saving grace is Cillian Murphy. The character isn’t great, but Murphy was good as usual opposite some suspect actors and a very weak script. And the movie could have cut Alex Pettyfer and his gang completely out of the script. The movie’s concept of time as currency is intriguing, but don’t make it a political movie.
Now we have Depp’s The Rum Diary. The film is somewhat of a prequel (story maybe) to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Depp again playing somewhat of a Hunter S. Thompson character (the author of both stories). Depp plays Paul Kemp, a writer who gets a job in 1960 Puerto Rico to write for a struggling newspaper.
There Kemp lives on rum and beer as he tries to figure out what’s happening on the little American island. He originally is assigned horoscopes and re-writes, but is met by Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) who wants him to work on writing information about a new hotel being constructed on an island coming up for sale. Kemp drinks heavily, gets mixed up with the wrong people, falls in love with the wrong girl and finally finds something to write about.
Yup that’s pretty much all I got out of it. I really enjoyed Fear and Loathing, but The Rum Diary lacks so much that made that film great. The idea of the film has been around for years, way before Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies and was actually filmed two years ago. And it probably should have stayed a concept. The resulting film is slow, rather boring and has maybe 2 or 3 memorable parts in it.
Depp himself is fine, but not the spectacular he needed to be. It’s too long and loses interest after a while. About the only thing going for it is that the scenery is nice and Amber Heard looks good in her nice clothes. There are a couple of funny moments, but you just expected more to come of it all. You wanted to see Depp drive a car off a cliff or getting into a drunken brawl, but instead you got dullness. At the end you get no closure, no sense of accomplishment, nothing. The film almost feels unfinished and the worst part is, you really didn’t know what to root for. You didn’t know if you wanted Depp to go with Eckhart, write for the newspaper, nothing. It’s probably why the film is coming out now with little competition at the box office.
In Time and The Rum Diary are two films I could care less if I ever saw again. The Timberlake film made me mad more than anything else because it really just wants to shove a message down your throat. Depp’s film was just simply boring and uneventful. Not much to choose from with either film. Go to a Halloween party instead.