New social sci-fi filmmaker‘s Andrew Niccol movie has an interesting central idea, but it‘s a bit too simple.
Director: Andrew Niccol | Stars: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Budget: 40 million | Box office: 174 million
Strangely, I thought this movie was still in early development stages. Since hearing a year or so ago about new sci-fi movie from marvelous Gatacca creator Andrew Niccol I haven‘t seen much development news. Maybe I didn‘t follow the movie carefully enough or maybe it was a marketing decision to start promoting it quite close to release date and focus heavy on Justin Timberlake, who has the lead role in this picture about dystopian society where the only currency is time.
I‘m quite happy Timberlake got the lead role. I really think he is a rare example of pop singer successfully turning to acting. Of course many of them tried and failed, but there are quite a few great actors who started as famous or not so famous singers. Anybody remembers Marky Mark? Continuing with actors, the rest of the cast was nice and adequate. I‘m glad Amanda Seyfried managed to brake my not so good earlier impression of her, although I haven‘t seen her earlier movies, just trailers were enough. It‘s very hard to get rid of any prejudice you have about an actor once you get it, and it‘s not fare to dislike somebody so early in their acting careers. Christopher Nolan‘s favorite Cillian Murphy fits the timekeepers role perfectly too.
The central In Time idea is really interesting, although I don‘t doubt there were some similar trials earlier, just don‘t seem to recall them right now. In a future society people stop aging at 25 and then they have to earn their minutes, hours and years by working. And spend the same earned time instead of money. As you can expect, there are very poor and very rich people, former trying to earn an extra day, latter spending centuries on gambling. It‘s a nice concept, but as I was afraid, it‘s a bit overplayed in the movie. There are too many inevitable catch phrases with „time is money“ ideas and the novelty and excitement of the moments where somebody‘s time runs out wears off during the movie. Sadly, in general In Time is really predictable and the outcome is too simple.
The production also feels a bit strained by the not so generous budget for such type of movie. It was not bigger than for Gatacca, but given the greater scale of In Time (and 14 years inflation) greater funding would have helped a lot. Some scenes look really underdeveloped and the general impression is that they had to save on locations, cars and other equipment. Although the idea of classic cars driven by electric motors probably is a real near future sight.
Another a bit sad thing was no evidence of any extraordinary decisions or ideas, as for example it was in Gatacca with a twelve fingers pianist concert – Franz Schubert composition was rewritten and recorded with extra notes. Such attention to details really impresses me. And in general In Time doesn‘t reach the level of tension and emotional involvement of the earlier Andrew Niccol movie.
Despite the movie not fully coming to my expectations, I think it was a decent work and another valuable addition to Regency studio portfolio which will at least help to balance such stuff as Chipmunks and Big Momma‘s. Next in line is another sci-fi movie set in Moscow – The Darkest Hour. And for Andrew Niccol is an interesting dystopian thriller with Saorise Ronan about last remaining people on Earth – The Host. Hope it will get more funding and let him more freely develop his interesting ideas.