DIRECTED BY: Andrew Niccol
WRITTEN BY:Andrew Niccol
STARRING:Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Shyloh Oostwold
RUNNING TIME:110 mins
DISTRIBUTED BY: 2oth Century Fox
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
The year is 2161. Genetic alteration has allowed humanity to develop a system where people stop aging 25 years after birth. ‘Living Time’ has replaced money as the standard currency and people must acquire more time after turning 25 years of age, or die within a year. The poor live in the ghettos and work each day to earn a few more hours of life, which they must also use to pay for everyday necessities. When 28 year old Will Salas helps Henry Hamilton, who has lived to 105 and flaunts it, escape from gangsters who steal people’s time by force, Hamilton tells him that there is enough time for everyone, but it is being stockpiled by the rich in New Greenwich, who can live for centuries and beyond. After transferring his remaining time to Will, he commits suicide. Will then sees his mother die from running out of time, and swearing revenge, goes to New Greenwich, determined to somehow set things right, but the Timekeepers are on his trail…………..
One of the best things about Science Fiction is that it allows for considerable social comment about important issues, while coating it in fantastical trappings so it becomes more acceptable and more easily assimilated by the general public, not to mention getting around controversy! The genre has a proud history of this, going back to The Twilight Zone and even further back to the novels of H.G.Wells. In Time is set in a future where the rich get richer and do everything they can to keep the poor, who get poorer, in their place, such as constantly raising the cost of living. Replace ‘Living Time’ with something called ‘Money’, and you don’t have to be camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral to see that this is very much commenting on and indeed criticising the way our Capitalist society is going at the moment. Fortunately, it’s also quite an entertaining thriller, so it never comes across as a political polemic.
Even by reading the synopsis of the first third, you will probably notice echoes of many recent futuristic-set movies such as Equilibrium and writer/director Andrew Niccol’s [who also wrote the brilliant The Truman Show] earlier Gattaca, as well some older ones such as Logan’s Run. Nothing especially wrong with this, as long as the film still has its own feel, and In Time just about manages to have that, but unfortunately there are also elements of this year’s dreadful The Adjustment Bureau, in the ‘Time Keepers’ that exist to ensure time doesn’t change and chase our hero and heroine all over the place. Still, unlike that film, the inane dialogue is kept to a minimum and there is a fair bit of tension, especially during some quite nail-biting scenes where time seems to be literally running out. The pace is fairly leisurely in the first half but its plot moves quickly from scene to scene, and takes in different tonal changes throughout. The movie is initially quite bleak, with two sad deaths within five minutes, but when Will visits New Greenwich things become lighter, as Will enjoys himself doing some of the things we would probably if we had tons of money – staying in a lush hotel, gambleing, buying and driving around in a swich car, etc. The film eventually reveals itself to be in part an action movie, with Will and Sylvia Wies, the rebellious rich man’s daughter he hooks up with, going on the run, but you may feel like cheering when they break into time banks and give time away to poor folk, Robin Hood-style. Sadly the romance, replete with kidnapped falling for kidnapper, goes through motions with have all seen hundreds of times before and never convinces.
The future portrayed here is a very believable one. Shorn of most of the trappings you might expect to see, it’s much like our time, only that some areas are more deserted. The main colour schemes are white, indicating perhaps the sterility of life in this future, and a sickly yellow, showing maybe the sickness? The yellow, in particular, is everywhere, from outdoors at night in the slums to the interior of the casino, perhaps saying that the rich folk may think they have a better existence than the poor but are actually wrong. Cinematographer Roger Deakins works wonders with these two main colours, especially during some nocturnal car driving where the bright white headlights of the vehicles contrast beautifully with the yellow bathing their surroundings. Action-wise there are two short but pretty exciting car chases, some shooting and so much running around that I wondered it Justin Timberlake is out to become the new Tom Cruise. Niccol directs these sequences very well, with editing that is nice and fast without going the ludicrous way of the majority of action filmking these days.
Timberlake botches a scene where he has to break down and cry, but otherwise fares well and certainly has charisma. Maybe one day he’ll be a good enough actor for me to forgive the music he inflicted upon us. Amanda Seyfried is merely adequate, as usual. Cillian Murphy seems in this movie to be channelling Christopher Walken in the way he movies and even speaks, and that’s just fine with me, because it ensures that, as it is with Walken, you can’t take your eyes off him when he is on screen. In Time is full of good things but it never quite becomes the great movie I feel it is sometimes on the verge of becoming. There is a feeling of holding back, and while some films benefit from not having everything explained, I think this one would have been better with some more detail. Still, it’s a worthy effort, certainly worth your time, and by the way I don’t think it merits a ‘12’ rating; a PG would be fine. Young people should see more films like this, which will entertain them but also make them think, and, in holding up a mirror to the world around them, may even make more of them want to change it.