Every second counts in this sexy, stylish action-thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. In a future where time is literally money and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, borrow, steal or inherit more time. But when a poor, working-class man (Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he teams up with a beautiful heiress (Seyfried) and must figure out a way to bring down the corrupt system before their dwindling life clocks run out!
As a storyteller, Andrew Niccol tends to think big, tackling heady subjects such as genetic predestination (Gattaca
), the nature of reality (The Truman Show
), and celebrity in the cyber age (S1m0ne
). In Time
, Niccol's first film since 2005's Lord of War
, has a typically gigantic premise--a world where everyone over 25 years old must pay for every continued second of their existence--but stumbles in the execution. While the ideas are exceedingly clever, the telling isn't especially witty. Justin Timberlake stars as a goodhearted but desperate minimum-wager trapped in a society where the rich are essentially immortal and the poor see their lifespan shorten with every purchase. (A cup of coffee costs 4 minutes, taking the bus also takes 30 minutes off of your life, and so on.) After being gifted with a century by a mysterious benefactor, he begins a romance with a beautiful socialite (Amanda Seyfried), whose father holds the key to the entire monetary system. Matters are complicated with the introduction of a relentless time cop (Cillian Murphy) with his own motivations for restoring the unnatural balance of things. Niccol has fun laying out the aspects of a world where even the elderly are genetically frozen at age 25 (the scenes where Timberlake interacts with his mother, played by a disturbingly spry Olivia Wilde, are an unsavory hoot), but has difficulty translating the ingenuity of his concept to a compelling narrative, which rapidly devolves into a mix of uninspired chase scenes and a succession of time-related puns that would have trouble passing muster on a Laffy Taffy wrapper. (The bad guys threaten to clean Timberlake's clock. Repeatedly.) While science fiction aficionados will find much to chew on in Niccol's askew reality, In Time
never quite hits the marks that its own ideas suggest. As a film, it's more fun to think about than watch. --Andrew Wright