Thursday, 21 March 2013

Film Review | In Time (2011)

Think of an English idiom either concerned with, or involving the word, time. The chances are pretty high that, whatever expression you're currently thinking of, it's included somewhere within In Time. The chances are equally high that you've just gone through the same process as those who actually wrote the script.

The universe that In Time takes place in is undoubtedly the most creative element of the whole thing. Hardly a surprise: writer, producer and director Andrew Niccol's previous credits include Gattaca (writer and director) and The Truman Show (writer and producer).Whilst In Time's world never reaches the imaginative highs of either of those films it certainly holds together in a compelling and believable fashion. Niccol also doesn't waste time with exposition, instead throwing the audience into the film's construct  with a confidence that genuinely galvanises your interest. It's a shame that this barely lasts halfway into the film's first act.

The problem is that Niccol never does anything interesting or deep enough with the set-up he creates. An appealing premise is squandered through characters lacking motive or intrigue performed by a cast that ranges from weak (Justin Timberlake) to going through the motions (Cillian Murphy, who admittedly does the best he can with a poorly written character). The story never grabs hold, instead just bumbling along becoming more and more unfocused until it reaches its lacklustre conclusion. The message that Niccol seems to be peddling here about class mobility and the poor being controlled by the wealthy feels ham-fisted and generates remarkably little excitement.

All of which leaves In Time as nothing more than a wasted opportunity. It's a real shame that Niccol fails to come up with a story or focus to match the ingenuity of the world in which his film is set, as with some decent characterisation and a well-written plot, this could have been a memorable entry into the action-sci-fi subgenre. As it stands, In Time is a forgettable disappointment.


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