A potentially riveting idea for a sci-fi potboiler devolves into a rather rudimentary cat and mouse chase picture in Andrew Niccol’s In Time. Muddled storytelling and leading players that don’t share much chemistry combine to weigh down the concept’s promising look at a future of possible immortality while the direction takes easy ways toward stretching suspense. There’s some fun to be had here, but one must excuse a good deal of misspent time and storytelling on characters and subplots that just don’t matter.
In Time (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 109 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Review Date: February 1, 2012
In the not-so-distant future, every human lives to the age of twenty-five when a one year clock begins ticking down inside the body to the end of his existence. Additional time can be bought to prolong life, and time becomes the new currency as people work not for money but for time and everything you buy costs not money but time from what you’ve accrued. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) and his mother Rachel (Olivia Wilde) live a bare existence in one of the U.S.’s poorer quadrants Dayton with Will working several jobs to earn him and his mother enough time to continue surviving. Will befriends a despondent man (Matt Bomer) who has a century of life stored up after having already lived a century, and when the man transfers his time to a sleeping Will before allowing himself to die, it puts two different men on his trail: a time thief (Alex Pettyfer) who prowls the streets of Dayton with his gang taking time from the weak and powerless and who had earmarked the dead man for his time and “time keeper” (police of the future) Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy) who finds it odd that Will can’t explain where he got so much time. Moving to the country’s richest quadrant New Greenwich, Will wins even more time from mogul Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) while intriguing Weis’ pampered daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), but crooks and cops victimize both him and Sylvia leaving them with little time left to find a means of prolonging their existences.
Writer-director Andrew Niccol has hit on a good plot gimmick with time as currency, and the constant clock countdowns that are easily seen in each character’s arm keep the viewer abreast of each character’s status as the movie progresses. But he hasn’t done a thorough job of thinking through ramifications about the law’s misuse of power (Will’s centuries of accrued time are taken from him just on suspicion and without any real proof of wrongdoing), and the subplot dealing with the prowling gang of thugs who steal time from others is irksome and ill-explained (where are the cops who keep them in line?). They also show up too conveniently just to make for added conflict to the protagonists’ problems making the plotting obvious and conventional. Niccol stages some good chase scenes, but there are too many of them (at one point, Will and Sylvia become a futuristic Bonnie and Clyde that seems very derivative), and he goes to the well once too often with the gimmick of time running down to seconds left as a pair of people rush toward each other’s arms for a quick time transfer. Also muddled is the backstory on capitalist Philippe Weis who’s accrued millions of years of time but is supposed to be seen as a corrupt businessman who’s cheating the average worker just to keep the balance of living and dead constant (or something). Trying to piece together the disparate pieces of the puzzle of this future civilization makes for an unsatisfactory way to watch this movie. Better to just turn off one’s brain and let the thrills and spills as the heroes are pursued by the villains take over.
Justin Timberlake makes a believable enough everyman hero grasping for a week here and a month there to keep himself and his mother alive. But he and co-star Amanda Seyfried have absolutely no romantic chemistry together at all making all of their tender scenes rather torturous to watch. She’s also tentative and rather graceless as the spoiled daddy’s girl on her own finally defying his authority. Vincent Kartheiser plays another of his patented smarmy characters with his usual panache while Cillian Murphy might as well be playing an automaton with his relentlessly inexpressive face and dogged determination toward his task. The script doesn’t offer him anything else to play, of course, but his one-note performance becomes rather tedious after awhile. Besides quick cameos from Matt Bomer and Alex Pettyfer, there are also brief (inconsequential) bits from Johnny Galecki and Brendan Miller.
The film is framed at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is excellent throughout the presentation, but contrast is sometimes dialed a bit too hot making the image take on a digital look. Color can also be a bit too saturated on occasion, but this might all be in the service of picturing a future era. Black levels are good but not perfect. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does what’s expected of it with a sci-fi action tale such as this one. There is plenty of split surround activity to keep all of the channels actively engaged (there is some neat panning through the soundstage during those car chases), but there are occasions when more surround activity might have added to the ambiance of a scene. Craig Armstrong’s music is piped through the entire soundstage for quite an immersive experience, and there’s good use of the LFE channel. Dialogue has been well recorded and resides in the center channel.
“The Minutes” is a 16 ½-minute prelude to the action of the movie with each of the principal actors in character being interviewed by an unseen reporter about their lives and their feelings about the world in which they live. It’s in 1080p.
There are ten deleted/extended scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 12 ¾-minute grouping. They’re in 1080p.
The film’s theatrical trailer is in 1080p and runs for 2 ¼ minutes.
There are promo trailers for This Means War, The Immortals, Haywire, Machine Gun Preacher, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and There Be Dragons.
The disc is BD-Live ready, but there was nothing at the Fox website pertaining to In Time.
The second disc in the set is a combination DVD/digital copy of the film.
3/5 (not an average)
Innovative in some ways and highly derivative in others, In Time might best be enjoyed by turning off one’s brain and simply relaxing into the film as a futuristic suspense thriller. The Blu-ray features very good picture and sound and will likely make for a decent rental for an action-filled evening at home.