What do you say about a movie that is all about time, but which cannot do its own math properly? Andrew Niccol, the filmmaker who brought us a similarly-themed tale set in the dystopian future called Gattaca in 1997, has hit gold upon the Hollywood scene with the acclaimed hit In Time — though the price he has paid for his mainstream success is far worse than what it would cost to give someone your final fleeting moments, as he has simultaneously hit rock bottom with this laughable tale that plays on the old adage “Time is money.”
It’s the future, kids, where the human race is genetically engineered to only live up to the age of 25 and have nifty digital clocks installed under the skin of their arms. After that, time is the only active currency, with poor people like Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) literally living from paycheck to paycheck. As the prices on everything from a cup of coffee to bus fare increase without any notice, the po’ folk tend to die on the street all the time, while the filthy stinkin’ wealthy elite have thousands of years on their hands to enjoy at their leisure.
After rescuing a fairly rich fellow who wandered into the ghetto (Dayton, OH), Will discovers that there’s time conspiracy goin’ on, with the elite taking more time from the working-class folks, etc. As a thank you for his kindness, the man gives him his remaining century of time, which sends Will into the realm of high society — determined to make the bastards pay.
Sadly, the only people who pay here are the poor unfortunate souls who wasted 110 minutes of their own lives watching this bloated, ridiculous feature, as the story then turns into your average “guy from lower walks of life meets rich girl and they are chased by police” thriller, with Will running about with a moneyed industrialist’s daughter (played by Amanda Seyfried) as they play Robin Hood and steal time to distribute amongst the poor, with a “Timekeeper” (Cillian Murphy) in hot pursuit of them. Co-starring in this pretentious mess are Matt Bomer, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde, and Ethan Peck (Gregory’s grandson).
Between the constant, annoying wordplay that Niccol has lined the pages of his script with (and bad puns, too), sound effects that sound like they were lifted from the old Knight Rider TV show, and the mediocre acting put forth by the film’s stars, In Time is the worst kind of Hollywood hit: a bad popcorn movie that the audience thinks is good because it’s the kind of crap they’re used to seeing. Niccol’s movie is held down by its own sense of self-importance, relying too heavily on style instead of substance (I see house music and those trendy faux fedoras Walmart sells made it into the future just fine!) — turning it into something as awful as Michael Bay’s The Island in the end, only minus all the freeway explosions — though In Time does have one of the worst CGI car crashes that was ever constructed.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings us In Time with an absolutely superb High-Definition transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. While both the audio and video aspects are commendable, they’re not enough to make up for the fact that In Time is just a waste of time. Special features for this overrated ignominy to cinema include a making-of featurette, several deleted/alternate scenes, and trailers for this and a few other Fox home video releases. None of the bonus items will give you a profound sense of being upon viewing them, though once you walk away from In Time, you might just be determined to steal two hours of your life back from Andrew Niccol.
In short: In Time is unintelligent, utterly unnecessary, and ultimately unrewarding. One might even say that writer/director Andrew Niccol — much like rock singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw — had too much time on his hands. Oh well, as they say: In Time, you too shall pass.
[You see, Niccol? You’re not the only one who can make bad puns. Ha!]