Writer/director Andrew Niccol’s films evoke pause and require some smart thinking. The Academy Award-nominated Gattaca (1997), which he wrote, was also his first directing debut and a favorite of sci-fi fans. The offbeat The Truman Show (1998), starring Jim Carrey and written and produced by Niccol, received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Screenplay. With In Time, Niccol taps into one of the world’s biggest obsessions – remaining young.
Full of action, adventure and the ever popular ticking clock, Niccol provokes an even more intriguing world in the future where no one ages past 25. That would be great if it wasn’t also a world where everything is run by hours and minutes, including how long someone might live. The rich can buy time from the bank, but the poor are left to barter or steal.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives with his mother (Olivia Wilde) in the time zone of Dayton. He works hard every day at an unfriendly factory hoping to add a few hours to the green illuminated clock ticking away on this forearm. He’s always on the short end of hours – usually less than 24 hours left to live – but manages to squeak by. He even downloads some hours to his mother from time to time or uploads some from her.
One day Will does not meet his quota at work, so he receives no time. He realizes he must find his mother quickly since she gave him her time when he left for work and was supposed to give it back. While frantically looking for time, Will aids Henry (Matt Bomer), a rich man, from a gang, who’s looking to steal time. Henry – now 105 – has tired of this world, so as he and Will hide out and sleep, he downloads a century of time to Will. With only minutes left, Henry falls off a bridge and dies.
Vincent Kartheiser, Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried
Will is then accused of murder and chased by the Timekeeper Leon (Cillian Murphy). Not finding an accessible place to hide in Dayton, he makes his way to the rich area of New Greenwich. Now on the other side of the hours dilemma, he must keep his arm constantly out of site. At this point, the plot becomes more intense as Will gets involved with Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of the banker (Vincent Kartheiser) who controls time.
Anyone who questions if Timberlake could take on a role that at one time would have gone to Bruce Willis need not worry. Every minute he’s on screen here, Timberlake appears exciting and believable as Will.
Director Niccol thought Timberlake was just right for the role. “I love Justin’s work ethic, which is one of the important traits he shares with his character, Will Salas,” Niccol said. “I don’t think Justin himself has taken a day off since he was 12 years old. There is no reason he won’t be a successful action hero [as Will] because he seems to be great at anything he turns his hand to.”
A fine cast keeps the farfetched In Time believable, and great cinematography by Roger Deakins (True Grit, No Country for Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption) helps create the film’s bizarre world. Niccol manages to generate a world full of danger, split-second choices and even a romance – all of which may mesmerize viewers. Barely a sound was heard during the screening I attended. In Time definitely entertains and should sustain a lot of buzz weeks after its release.
Photo Credits: Stephen Vaughan / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation