Unfortunately, In Time is just kind of a bore of a movie that doesn't really go anywhere. It's a shame because I really wanted to like this. This review might be a little spoilery, so be warned.
The premise, which is given an all-too-brief explanation at the beginning, is that humans are now genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. The catch is that once you hit 25, you have one year left to live. Time is now the currency. When you work, you get paid in additional time and you pay for things using the time you have stored up. Everyone has a display on their forearm that shows you the amount of time you have.
This is where the brief explanation made me start asking questions, and in a bad way. You see that people still have parents, but if people are genetically engineered now, how does that work out? Do people still have sex for procreation, or do you just give samples of genetic material with a partner to make a kid? You don't see anyone pregnant in the movie. Plus, you see babies with the timers on their forearms already. Are they born with them? Are they surgically implanted after birth? If they are born with them, how was that genetically engineered? It's hard for me to buy into the premise when it's not very well defined or explained throughout the movie.
One of the things I did like about In Time was how they showed this affected society. "Poor" people are essentially always in a rush. They run from place to place, as they don't have any time to waste. You see that sometimes they only have minutes left on their lives before getting paid again. You'll see people just die in the middle of the street if they run out of time. On the other hand, "rich" people move around slowly, taking their time, as they can live hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Outside of getting killed or getting into an accident, the ultra rich are effectively immortal. As a result, they are very careful. Additionally, people now live in 'time zones', which is how different economic classes are separated.
Justin Timberlake is one of the "poor" people. He and his mom, played by Olivia Wilde, live in the 'slums', which are the nicest slums you'll ever see. Maybe this is a product of the future, but even the slums are clean. Nothing looks particularly run down and you don't see litter anywhere. This was also a sequence that kind of weirded me out though. When Timberlake addresses Wilde as "Mom", it's just was just kind of hard to believe. She embraces him and looks in his eyes, you get a weird feeling like they are going to make out. It doesn't help knowing that Wilde is 27 and Timberlake is 30.
With all these hot people walking around and not knowing their age right away, you have to wonder about people hooking up. How does that work out? Kind of gives a whole new meaning to MILF or DILF, eh? There's a clever line about halfway through the movie where the creepy dude from Mad Men said someting along the lines of , "Things used to be less complicated. You're looking at her and you're wondering if she is my daugter or my mother. You hope she's not my wife."
Anyway, Timbelake sees a rich guy flashing around time (like flashing around money) in a bar and helps him out when a group of thugs are ready to rob him. The rich guy, played by Matthew Bomer, reveals that he's over 100 years old and is tired of living. He also talks about how there's basically a conspiracy to keep the rich living forever and keep the poor down, by constantly increasing the cost of living, so that they can't keep up and eventually die. He gives Timberlake his remaining 100 years. This allows Timberlake to move out of the slums. However, rich people notice he's 'new money', as he seems to do things too fast.
In the future, there are 'Timekeepers', which are basically the time police. The lead Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy) starts to investigate Timberlake as they think he got his new time illegally. However, the Timekeepers just take it all away from Timberlake's character. There no investigation or anything. It's nice to see police work has advanced in the future. I guess innocent until proven guilty doesn't exist in the future.
So now he's on the run from the cops. He kidnaps a anime looking Amanda Seyfried, who initially wants to get away from him, but then she needs him to stay alive. Then the movie takes on this weird Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood thing where they go around robbing time banks and giving all the time away.
I'm probably making this sound more interseting than it actually is. As I said at the beginning of the review, In Time is actually kind of a bore. It just trudges along, never really feeling like it's going anywhere or what kind of movie it wants to be. The characters didn't really seem to have any true motivation. There were weird leaps of logic and people would do things seemingly for no real reason. The dialog didn't seem organic at all. Scenes didn't flow from one to the next. You were never quite sure what was going to happen next, and not in a good way.
The design of the world seemed kind of inconsistent as well. Despite it being several hundred years in the future, people still drive around in cars and buildings looked like they could have been built recently. The cars sometimes sounded electric and other times sounded like old fashioned muscle cars. It didn't look futuristic at all. In fact, everything In Time seemed very retro. The cars were retro and even the clothing was retro. Like the main gang of thugs that basically go around the slums ripping off everyone are all dressed like they just left the swing dance club from Swingers.
Performance wise, I didn't really like anyone in this. I didn't have a problem with anyone personally, but it just seemed like everyone was miscast. Outside of one or two people, I didn't think anyone was very convincing. I'm supposed to believe some of these people are well over 50-years-old and I just never bought into it. Even though they don't look older, you'd expect some of these people to act older. You know, act their age.
I've liked Justin Timberlake in other movies, but I don't he's ready to carry a movie like this. His acting isn't mature enough. I think if they had re-cast the leads this might have worked a little better. I know they were limited in that they had to cast people that could pass for mid-20's, but it seems more mature actors would have been a better choice. Someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt I think would have been a much stronger choice as the lead.
The sad part was that people applauded at the end of In Time as if they had just watched a masterpiece. I felt like I had just watched a boring mess. It wants to be smarter film, but just isn't. It's a shame, because I think it's a waste of a good premise, but there were too many weird things that took me out of the film and kept me from buying into it. I advise you to skip this one. It's a rental.