In the not-too-distant future, genetic manipulation has allowed humans to stop aging at 25. But time has become the new currency which people must earn if they hope to go on living, making the wealthy nearly immortal. An ordinary man (Justin Timberlake) and a beautiful young heiress (Amanda Seyfried) team up for a series of daring bank robberies designed to crash their corrupt system.

Justin Timberlake is an entertaining little guy. I wasn’t a fan of NSYNC at all. I like his solo music though; some of his collaborative material is really good. And as far as films go, I mostly remember him playing against-type as the awkward teacher in “Bad Teacher” (that scene where he dry-grinds real-life ex-girlfriend Cameron Diaz still cracks me up – all I kept thinking about was “what are the film crew thinking, knowing that they previously made the ‘two-back monster’ in real-life!” Then I saw him in “Social Network” as the true-to-type, uber-cool creator of Napster, Sean Parker – a complete and complimentary contrast to Jesse Eisenberg’s socially ‘restrained’ Mark Zuckerberg – he proved he could act.

So I was quite looking forward to the prospect of seeing whether Timberlake would ‘sink or swim’ as the chief protagonist in a Logan Run-esque film with very few other headline stars, nor lavish special effects to fall back on. “In Time” is set in a Dystopian future where everyone ages to 25, and then your ability to stay immortally 25 depends on your tenacity to accumulate time credits – the currency of this world. Much like today’s world, the poor live in blue-collar ghettos seeking out a living day-to-day, whilst the rich live in the city outskirts in relative opulence with centuries of time credits in the bank. With this background, much of the film was a little ‘familiar’ with elements of Gattaca (knowing your place in society), Blade Runner (not enough time), even Adjustment Bureau (pre-determined nature of order), but what caught me off guard was the was the imperative of ‘children’ to do anything to extend the life-span of their parents – even though everyone in the film is age 25.

In summary, Timberlake plays a blue-collar worker who, following a chance encounter with a dis-illusioned (and suicidal) member of the ruling classes, is endowed with a whole century of time credits. Following the death of his mother (played by Olivia Wilde), he endeavours to break into the ruling classes, experience what they have, and drive home the point of his loss. Things get complicated when the time police turn up (led by Cillian Murphy) to correct the obvious error – that someone of his social standing should not have that many time credits to their name – as well as a suspicion that he killed to get those credits. The plot takes a twist then when he is forced to take a wealthy creditor’s daughter hostage and then go on the run, not only from the police, but also from the local racketeering gangster whose set-up he threatens to de-stabilise. From this point, I connected with Timberlake’s singular determination to ‘bring the system down’, which is the prime motivational factor in this film..

Timberlake puts in a respectable performance, and it’s not often that the transition of pop-star to film-star runs this long. I didn’t particularly take to Amanda Seyfried in the beginning, as she didn’t seem right in the role, but by the end of the film I was sold on her. The little gem is Murphy’s “time-keeper” (policemen in this future), a relentless ‘sand-man’ doggedly pursuing Timberlake and refusing to see the ill in ‘the system’ as it is all he knows. Also refreshing is a brief dramatic performance by Johnny Galecki, otherwise known to geeks globally as Leonard Hofstadter from ‘The Big Bang Theory’. The only character who really lets the film down is the leader of the criminal gang ‘The MinuteMen’, played by Alex Pettyfer; ever since Christopher Ecclestone in “Gone in 60 Seconds”, why does Hollywood cast British thugs as gangsters in American badlands? It looks so out of place!

The soundtrack by Craig Armstrong is also worthy of a quick mention, in several places it so reminded me of Michael Nyman’s score for Gattaca, which will always be in my Top 10.

It should have done better in the cinemas – blame the marketing ‘machine’ if you didn’t even know it was out in your neighbourhood.

GS Rating: 3.5/5
GS Reporter: Nuge

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