In Time

By Geoff Ratliff

“In Time”, the new action/thriller starring Justin Timberlake comes off as part Robin Hood, part Bonnie and Clyde, and part The Matrix, not a bad mix in theory. The movie follows the story of Will Salas (Timberlake), a young man struggling to make it day-to-day, and to matter in a future where time is the only currency. After a chance encounter with a man in a bar who’s apparently seen way too much and lived way too long, Will is entrusted with the responsibility of trying to shake up an otherwise broken system. Once his new friend has entrusted Will with all the time he will ever need, Salas takes the opportunity to escape his unfulfilling life and taste a bit of how the haves have been living before embarking on a quest to liberate the masses. But falling into instant wealth doesn’t come without headaches of it’s own, and after acquiring a running buddy in the form of Sylvia Weiss (played by a stunning Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of one of the worlds wealthiest men, Will begins a race against time – and an overly ambitious Timekeeper (the cops of their time), played by Cillian Murphy – to upset the apple cart before the man brings him down.

I’ve long admired the blueprint that Timberlake has taken to building his credibility as an actor – although I wish it hadn’t come at the price of such a long layover between albums – not rushing into a leading man role and paying his dues in smaller parts and ensemble pieces. That process seems to have paid off for him as he does an admirable job in his first action/thriller role, but I have to admit that the film left me wanting a bit more, as their isn’t quite enough action, nor enough thriller.

Visually the movie is stunning, and well-directed by Andrew Niccol, but the writing, which was also done by Niccol, lacked depth, which is a shame because it doesn’t fully capitalize on some impressive acting. I was almost distracted enough by the aesthetics of the film (did I mention that Amanda Seyfried was stunning?) that this got by me a few times, but overall I couldn’t quite escape the feeling that the characters were screaming for more depth. Cillian Murphy’s role as the lead Timekeeper is a prime example of this. I kept waiting for his character to deliver some powerful dialogue and take on somewhat of a sympathetic presence similar to the Mr. Smith character played so well by Hugo Weaving in The Matrix Trilogy. Instead, he remains mostly mute, or reduced to one-liners, which becomes more frustrating once it is revealed in the movies final minutes that he actually has a back story worth pursuing.

Maybe Niccol was trying not to come off too much like the Matrix which is why we are still left wondering whether or not Timberlake can handle the physical demands of a true action role. There are no cool car chases scenes, thought the potential was there, nor any visually stimulating shoot outs or explosions. All of this would be fine had the story gone a tad bit deeper, but I curiously left hoping for a sequel that dares to spend more time exploring the depths of “In Time”.

Follow Geoff on Twitter @snglmarriedguy

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