-- written and directed by Andrew Niccol -- presents an interesting premise, but it falls a bit short in making that premise work on the big screen.
In some future time, which looks amazingly like the present in most cases, people are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. At that time, the “clock” on their forearms activates, and they have one more year to live -- that is, if they don’t “buy” more time. For the rich, this is no problem. They have centuries in the bank, so to speak. Everyone else, however, lives in terms of days, hours, or often minutes. Everything costs time. For example, a luxury car sells for 59 years. Time can be traded from person to person, or it can be added via scanning device. It’s subtracted in the same way.
This kind of sci-fi film requires a specialized vocabulary and actors who are comfortable enough with it to sound natural. One of this film’s problems is that -- due to a script full of weak dialogue -- the actors do not sound comfortable with their lines.
Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas, a young man living day to day in a zone called Dayton, which he constantly refers to as the “ghetto.” He lives with his mother (played by Olivia Wild) and they both work any job they can find to add days or hours to their lives. We quickly learn that the population is divided into zones according to wealth -- or lack thereof.
The wealthy reside in New Greenwich, a zone completely removed and protected from the poor. The poor try to earn, beg for, or steal time to keep from timing out (dying). They’re unaware that the wealthy keep them this way to control them so that their own vast stores of time are not threatened.
When Will saves a wealthy man (Matt Bomer) in a bar from a gang of criminals, he is rewarded with extra years of life -- though the act has very negative consequences.
Most of the film’s story is a typical chase-and-evade sort of thing. One of the problems with this is is time itself. When it’s a matter of seconds, time is accurately shown. Otherwise, it’s out of synch. The hours and days pass much too quickly to get us down the crucial few seconds when we find out if a character is going to time out or not. Another problem is that everyone is supposed to stop aging at 25. Most of the actors in this film are over 25, and they look it. Justin Timberlake is 30, and he definitely looks it. This is especially true for his best friend, Borel, played by Johnny Galecki who is 36 in real life, and Cillian Murphy, who is 35. It’s also a bit of a stretch to believe that genetic engineering can make green-lit, digital numbers appear on everyone’s forearms.
In Time is not a bad film, it just could have been so much better. The acting is, overall, not great. Of course, the weak, stilted dialogue could have something to do with that. Justin Timberlake, who was so good in a supporting role in The Social Network, is not strong enough to carry a film on his own. Amanda Seyfried looks beautiful, but has little to offer performance-wise. There are some inconsistencies, though this is the kind of sci-fi film it’s probably better not to think too much about. Just kick back and try to get into the alternate world presented to you