Monday, June 25, 2012

In Time (2011)

Andrew Niccol, you disappoint me.

In Time is a great concept:  we have the power to be immortal, so because of resource concerns, money becomes an allotment of time to live.  Next comes Robin Hood story, yada yada yada, the poor are saved from the rich, everyone happy ever after.  The end.  Simple, right?  Gonna be FABULOUS.  So let's make this movie.  

Nooooope!  The execution is just horrible.  This movie has some of the problems that I thought Gattaca had -- which I loved -- but taken to the Nth degree.  For one thing, there are too many chase scenes and the story is vastly oversimplified given the other technology made available to characters in the story.

Let's focus on the behavior of time trading for a second.  People can give time to each other with a handshake, and depending on whose hand is on top, the time is taken from one person and given to another.  A number of random issues arise here.  Like, for example, why is someone able to take my time down to zero at some crazy-ass rate of depletion?  Would anyone ever give anyone else so much time that they want just 10 seconds left to live?  It makes no sense.  You would think the minimum you could give to someone would be everything you have, but leaving an hour or two.

Ohhhh, but it's a plot device... I get it.  I just came up with a new rule.  Anytime moviemakers put in a ridiculous plot device like this, it should be made into a drinking game.  In the case of "In Time":  How many freakin times in this movie do characters get down to seconds left on their clock before they die.  Drink a shot every time you see it.

Then you have other technological issues.  They can all live forever with these time devices, but can be shot dead by bullets?  We're running out of resources so they have to ration time?  Why couldn't they just, stop eating?  If we have the technology to live forever, why aren't we on spaceships travelling for eons?  I don't expect all of these to be answered, of course.  Futuristic movies always have holes like this.  But I just don't think Niccol gives enough thought to all of these ancillary things when he devises these otherwise brilliant concepts.

The casting is also laughable.  Not one person could act in this film.  I actually like Justin Timberlake.  I thought he was great in The Social Network and think he's hilarious whenever he's on SNL.  One thing he is not, however, is an action star or a dramatic actor.  There's a scene in this movie where he's supposed to be mourning someone.  It's... pretty bad acting.  One would hope that someone would be paying attention when shooting it, in the editing room or dailies and maybe, you know, help the bad acting.  Not this time.  It makes me wonder if Niccol did not want Timberlake as the lead.

This movie is at least an hour too long, which is frightening because it's only 109 minutes -- meaning it really only has about 49 minutes of good material.  That might fill up an episode of CSI: Miami if you're lucky.  Niccol, do you ever go back to watch your own movies?  The concepts are great but they get pretty boring at times.  Let me just set a scene for you that illustrates this:

  • Timberlake and what's-her-face are on the run, shot a cop, etc.
  • They hole up in a hotel room
  • Later, they proceed to be all lovey-dovey and... wait for it... play STRIP POKER.
Now, I don't really care if characters in movies play strip poker when I'm not trying to watch a movie and they aren't running from the police.  But if this is your idea of character development it's ridiculous.  Yes, they fall in love.  We get it... we got it 35 minutes before this scene.  And who the hell is on the run from the police and takes time to mess around playing strip poker?

I ended up watching the final third of this movie with subtitles on and at 4x speed.

JSS RATING:  Bad/Bad movie.  I have no idea if Andrew Niccol intended this to be one of his good movies.  I suspect it originally was, but then they bundled JT into the picture and it became kind of a mindless action flick (i.e. "bad").  Such a great concept, and it never paid off.

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