In Time (2011)

Not only do you stay the same age for the rest of your life, but you always stay sexy and gorgeous. Yay!

When Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way to bring down a system where time is money (no, literally) enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day. Along with him, he takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of one of the wealthiest men alive, and they venture out to change the world, they once knew, and try to make it back to the way things once were before.

In today’s day and age, hearing the term “time is money” seems very relevant and places you in the world we live in where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and cash is getting harder and harder to acquire. It’s a mess of a world we live in and it’s another perfect opportunity for Andrew Niccol to capitalize on and make a great sci-fi future about, just like he did with Gattaca. However, comparing those two seems a bit mis-matched, as one plays out like an actual drama, where this is just guns, chases, women, sex, and money. Lots and lotsa money.

What I liked most about this flick was the set-up and premise from Niccol. He takes you into this future where everybody is practically living day-to-day, working their asses off just for another hour, and people don’t waste any time at all with what it is they do, so they just run just to keep up with time. It’s a pretty neat premise that Niccol shows and actually spends a butt-load of time developing it, showing us the perks, showing us the obvious cons, and also letting us know how people get by when they live in a world like this. It also looks gorgeous with some really lavish production designs and something about those cars that combine a futuristic look, with a 70’s grindhouse-car look and made them look so cool and retro, but something I’ve never seen before as well. Either way, this whole world that Niccol put me in was really cool but it only becomes a total shame when things started to change right in the middle, and not for the best, either.

Even though everybody around him is dying, he's still pleased that he's the sexiest man on the planet.
Even though everybody around him is dying, he’s still pleased that he’s the sexiest man on the planet.

The film changes it’s tempo from this dark, brooding drama about a messed-up future, to a slam-bang, action thriller where two Bonnie and Clyde-types are going around, shooting people, taking time, and trying to save their own time as well. You would think that with a good chunk of this film surrounding two people, running for their lives as their clock ticks and ticks away, there would be a lot more suspense and momentum to this flick, but I never felt it. The pace should have been more frantic, where you felt like these characters could have timed-out at any second and even though there were some parts where that feeling came over me (last 15 minutes were pretty damn tense), it sure as hell wasn’t enough especially when you take into consideration that the last hour is dedicated to it.

This film is also terribly silly, but not in a good way, either. There’s a lot of lame dialogue used here where characters use all of these dumb time puns and the usual corny, action bullshit where you have JT saying that he’s going “to take their time back”, and all that lame-o crap that we hear in every sci-fi, action film. But this time it’s different: because it’s all about time. Honestly, if I heard “cleaning one’s clock” ever used again when somebody said they were going to kill somebody, I was going to rip out all of the alarm clocks from my house, get a hammer, set them down, and smash every single one to pieces until I couldn’t hear a ticking noise! And yes, even the ones on the microwave and stove as well! Sounds dramatic, I know; but it gets so annoying after awhile. Just trust me on that and be ready to check-off every “time” pun you can find because I don’t think you’ll have any left by the time this is over. See what I did there? Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now.

But the idea of how these people actually lose and gain time was pretty silly as well, if not fully realized to its fullest. I’m not a big mofo when it comes to movies not making any sense or seeming illogical in terms of plot or character-development, but when a flick like this depends on it’s tools and methods, I have to expect a little something more in the plausibility department. Think about it: the only way to gain and lose time in this future is by touching arms together. That’s it. The way a person can save your life is by basically, taking your arm, saying how much time to give away, and holding it for about 5 seconds or so. That’s pretty much all there is to that idea and it would seem pretty easy to steal anybody’s time just by walking by somebody and taking their arms, regardless of if they want you to take their time or not. Maybe Niccol didn’t fully think this stuff through, just maybe.

If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!
If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!

If anything makes this film a lot better, it’s the action and the cast that this film has assembled. Since every character in this film has to look either 25 or younger, it seems like a very big stretch for this film to get people that look this age and I don’t think one person in this film was actually that age, but they all do fine jobs with it. Justin Timberlake is fine in one of his first starring roles, playing a very serious and heroic-like character as Will Salas. JT does his best with this material and even though a lot of the lines he’s given are terribly corny as hell (yes, I speak of the “time” puns), he still works through it and makes a realistic/sympathetic character that we can all stand behind easily. Amanda Seyfried begins, at first, by playing his damsel in distress that seems to just want to go home back to her rich mommy and daddy, and live the life she’s always wanted to, but that surprisingly changes when we soon start to see her and JT connect with each other, which is where her performance seems to get better. Their chemistry is very good together and I could actually buy them as love interests, as well as two bad-ass rebels that wanted to take down “the man”. It’s also surprising that I believed them as a couple because they rarely have any actual love scenes together, and even when they do, they are always rudely interrupted by the dickhead time-keeper; Mr. Cillian Murphy himself.

One of the more distracting aspects behind this flick is that 35-year old Cillian Murphy looks the oldest out of this whole cast, but other than that, is still pretty good as our “villain”, Raymond Leon. I use quotation marks around the word “villain” because the film never really seems to decide whether he’s a troubled, government worker that is just doing his job, or a guy that is truly a bad soul that just wants to make people’s lives miserable. That aspect of this character is never fully realized until the last couple minutes or so with him and it’s only because of how good Murphy is at playing him, that I can forgive the film for this mis-step. The actual villainous villain in this flick is played by Alex Pettyfer, and after seeing Magic Mike and loving him in that, I was really happy to see this kid here give a pretty good performance as a dude that goes around, killing people, and taking their times right before he does so. Such a baddie!

Consensus: The set-up and initial-pace from Andrew Niccol, has In Time start off with plenty of promise, but it soon falls down after about an hour or so, where the film goes from a thriller that features no real thrills, no real suspense, and a whole bunch of corny-dialogue that makes you feel like this film was supposed to be made way back in the 80’s, when these films made killings at the box-office. They still do now, but not as much as that lame decade.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Has to be the sexiest mom that's single, under 30, and has a teenage son.
Has to be the sexiest mom that’s single, under 30, and has a teenage son.


  1. I remember enjoying this one well enough, though I do recall many of the faults you’ve pointed out here. But still, it’s fun enough while you watch, even if it’s not the most memorable of movies over time. 😛 Good review, Dan.

  2. Nice review, but I think you are being a bit hard on a film I saw on TV recently. I was impressed by the genuine attempt at stylish scifi and I thought Justin and Amanda had pretty good chemistry. I liked it more than you did.

  3. This film really annoyed me, because it has one of the most original Sci-Fi ideas in a long time. Yet, as you said, they wasted a brilliant universe with little more than a chase story. It could have been so much better!

  4. This movie was horrible. Not sure how nobody noticed how Timberlake messed up his lines in the scene while riding in the limo. If you go to that part you’ll see. Bad editing there.

    • see this is what perplexes me, how JT actually gets acting gigs. I guess in real life he has a ton of money, a few NSYNC CD’s to back up his singing (if ever it were called upon in a part) and thas how he do.

      I personally avoided this movie because of him, but reading this makes me glad I avoided it on many levels. Great, funny review Dan.

      • Thanks to both of you! I need to check that scene out one more time, but as an actor: I think he’s good. He’s not perfect, but he’s getting there. That’s fo sho.

  5. The idea behind the film is quite clever but the film itself is kinda rubbish. Plus I hate Timberlake, don’t think he should be on screen…

  6. Had to struggle to read the review because of the pic of Olivia Wilde… damn her distracting gorgeousness!

    p.s. agreed 100% with you on this one

  7. You know, I just around to “In Time” myself, and actually, I rather enjoyed it. Yeah, the dialogue odd, but the concept is good, and I actually rather enjoyed how the movie continued to switch tones throughout, ’cause that the movie more interesting. Since it was switching tones, even though we’re given this new world, we get to see a lot of it, in a lot of different ways. New metaphors coming in, the movie continually changing from one movie to another, I thought it kept it interesting. I gave it 3 1/2 STARS (Out of five) I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed the film.

  8. It’s been a while since I saw this, but I recall my sentiments echoing yours for the most part. I thought it was a great setup and interesting world they created, but then it just all kind of falls apart from there. I think the only thing we disagree on was that I thought JT was miscast in the lead. I remember thinking I would have believed it better if someone like JGL had been cast in the lead.

    • I didn’t hate him as much, but it was his character that was a little bit stupid in the way he went about things. Could have just been more for him and the plot.

  9. I agree with the general consensus – great idea, flawed execution. Like, there are SO many small little problems that started to overwhelm me.

    Also, Olivia Wilde only stars in box office bombs. Not sure why, I see films JUST to watch her!

  10. I liked In Time well enough, but indeed it wasnt without its faults. I do disagree that its unfair to compare this to Gattaca, though. I’ve said it time and time again, but while they have some differences, In Time is nothing but a reskinned remake of Gattaca. And Gattaca does it far better. I still like Niccol’s work (even this) but he definitely ripped himself off and did worse this time around.

    P.S. I agree about JT. I think he gets a bad wrap for being a boy band hack in his past. But he’s really come into his own as an actor. He’s not great, but he’s solid enough.

  11. Good review, I completely agree. Coming from the writer of Gattaca and The Truman Show, I expected more. Started off great and then completely lost me… I want to blame the young actors, in the fact that they couldn’t act the age they’re supposed to be, but I ultimately think it was the studio wanting to sell the movie as the futuristic Bonnie & Clyde that it turned out to sorta-half-be

  12. I have tried to watch this movie all the way through at least three times on HBO, and I can’t do it. This movie is boring and not much fun.

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