Directed by Andrew Niccol
Starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde
A good sci-fi story is hard to find in major theater releases these days. In fact, unless it’s an alien invasion they’re almost nonexistent. The most recent exception that comes to mind is Bradley Cooper starring Limitless. That film too was more of a contemporary film with science fiction elements rather than a full blown science fiction story. In Time goes back to a traditional type of sci-fi film where the author is trying to deliver a message while telling an entertaining science fiction story. It’s sort of like wrapping the pill in a piece of cheese if you will.
In Time is set in an alternate, or possibly just future, version of Earth where wealth is determined by time rather than money. Time is money, how about that? Literally people work for minutes added to their lives and they pay bills and make other purchases with minutes, hours, days, months, and years of their lives. Wealthy people can live hundreds of years and literally have time to burn, whether it’s on booze and prostitutes or gambling it away at a card table. People have been genetically engineered to grow a clock on their forearms and stop aging at age 25. So literally if you’re wealthy you not only can live for an extremely long time but you live that time in a 25 year old body.
Justin Timberlake plays a young man living in the slums trying to keep time for his mother and cover their debts. He works in the local factory and is trying to stay on the straight and narrow. It appears he was once a good street fighter and card player. Two pivotal things happen within days of each other to change his path forever. The first is that a wealthy man tired of living gifts him over a hundred years, so much time in fact that the wealthy man dies. This sets the police, or “time keepers” on Timberlake’s path. Next is his mother dies, literally in his arms. After these two events he decides that it’s time he did something about the system that makes the rich get rich and the poor get more poor. Do you see the social and political commentary coming into play here?
I’m a fan of injecting some social commentary in film even if I don’t agree with it. That sort of layered storytelling can ground an other worldly story and make it relatable. It works here too, even if there are a few too many time is money sort of puns throughout the film. The problem isn’t the commentary here. This sort of blanket assumption commentary is the common way to approach this sort of story. Now that I’ve mentioned that there is in fact a problem I’ll say that it is more set in the scattershot character development and the character abilities as a crutch sort of writing. Just when things seem bleak Justin Timberlake has an ability, like being a good fighter or gambler, to get his character to the next act. Also much of what’s happening doesn’t seem to have the weight that it is meant too. When he decides to reset the system he takes on a sort of Robin Hood approach to saving the day but for some reason it just doesn’t seem to matter.
Many elements of the story are quite good. The core idea of the story is very Phillip K. Dick, and that’s a really good thing. The problem is that the writer/director focuses too much on the gimmick of the film and forgets to make his characters mean something to us. For instance there’s a thug in the film that seems to really only be there for a social statement in the story and to show off Timberlake’s character as a fighter. The fight has absolutely no impact on the bigger story. There are also a few elements of the story that are so glossed over that you might miss them or the reason for them. With all of this said the good in this film makes it worth a watch. The cast is great and as I said, some parts of the film are truly intriguing. It feels like a sci-fi matinee film on local TV and when approached that way it can be entertaining.
The 1080p Presentation here is solid with good color and contrast. Detail is strong throughout the film too. The presentation isn’t particularly striking, possibly due to the budget of the film or simply weaker directing but overall the film just has a flat look.
The surround sound mix is well balanced throughout with dialogue always coming through loud and clear. Dynamic range and sub-woofer use is a bit on the flat side, like the video actually. It’s not outstanding but it’s not bad either.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
We were sent a check disc for this film, which is just a disc in an envelope so we can’t comment on packaging and we aren’t sure if the disc we were sent is final as far as bonus features. Since there were absolutely no bonus features hopefully this isn’t the final version. So, at this point we can’t rate this section of the film.
In Time is second rate low fi sci-fi and that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. These sorts of films can be good fun for a Sunday afternoon rental. If you’re a hardcore science fiction fan then even with the film’s flaws it still might be worth a purchase.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features N/A
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10