From the man who brought us GATTACA all those years ago comes IN TIME, a disappointing science-fiction entry that begins with a promising premise and then devolves into predictability. Written, directed and produced by Niccol and starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the film centers around the idea of swapping literal currency for time: the more you have, the longer you live, and when your time runs out after the age of twenty-five, you die. It’s a clever premise that opens the door for all manner of ridiculous social commentary, and Niccol seizes the opportunity at just about every turn, giving us absurd dialogue such as Timberlake’s proclamation that he has no time for a girlfriend (emphasis: his). And, unfortunately, the film doesn’t ever strive to be anything more than than the haphazard political commentary that it is; Niccol seems more interested in class struggle and the financial crisis than exploring the far more interesting, existential concepts that the premise suggests. What we’re left with is a film containing embarrassingly heavy-handed dialogue, unbelievably blunt, allegorical themes and a plot that essentially boils down to another half-baked, high-concept Robin Hood rip-off.
Still, there are a few scattered moments of excellence that keep the film afloat, including some truly captivating and mesmerizing images (such as Timberlake and Seyfriend swimming in the ocean at night, their faces illuminated by the eerie, green glow of the time stamps on their arms) and a few choice moments of wisdom, though they are buried deeply beneath the surface of the obvious metaphors. The world building is also quite satisfying, and Niccol obviously spent some time constructing this living, breathing future that feels surprisingly honest and grounded; one simply cannot help but wish that he had taken the time to make his story something more worthy of the world’s fascinating premise. There is a terrific story in here somewhere; he just didn’t find it.