Justin Timberlake will need to wait for another movie to become a kick-ass, bona fide action star, because In Time is intensely bad—an OK idea gone horribly awry.
In Time seemed like it could be interesting. The trailer—featuring Timberlake cutting loose and smacking people in a future world where time is used as currency—looked pretty cool. Give the guy who edited the trailer a box of his favorite cheese and a new puppy, because he made a crap movie look like it could be good.
Timberlake plays Will Salas, a factory worker living in a world where humans have been genetically engineered to stop aging when they are 25. At that point, people must work, fight or steal to earn extra time for their lives. When the extra time they've earned runs out, they die.
So time is the new money, and everybody knows how much time they have because of a glowing, green time display on each person's forearm. The movie provides no explanation for how time can just show up on somebody's arm like a super-high-class Casio. The glowing time display is just there, and we need to accept it.
Also, you can give time to somebody, or steal it from them, by simply thinking of how much you want to steal or give while holding their hand. So ... this make-believe future world, created by writer-director Andrew Niccol (who made the decent Gattaca), is totally ridiculous and implausible. Good science fiction offers ideas that we can sort of accept as a possibility. This stuff is laughably preposterous.
Will sees some handsome guy (Matt Bomer) in a bar flaunting a lot of time, and Will winds up rescuing him from a bunch of guys trying to steal it. (Time bandits?) They chat, hang out for a while and fall asleep. Handsome-guy then transfers all of his time to Will shortly before ending his life, because immortality equals boredom. Will is suspected of handsome-guy's murder and becomes a fugitive from the law (mainly represented by "timekeeper" Raymond Leon, played by Cillian Murphy).
With all sorts of time on his hands (pun intended), Will goes to a casino. One thing leads to another, and he winds up kidnapping time-heiress Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), whose dad, Philippe (Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser), is in possession of many, many years. Sylvia eventually starts suffering from Stockholm syndrome with Will, and begins robbing her dad's time banks with Will—sort of like a futuristic Patty Hearst.
As for Seyfried, it's as if Niccol set out to make her as unattractive as possible—and succeeded. The luminous actress is saddled with a red wig and dark eye makeup that makes her look like Velma from Scooby-Doo (minus the glasses) after a weekend heroin binge.
Seyfried has turned in good work in the past (Mean Girls, Big Love), but she's a lost cause here. Her every line feels as if she has no clue about her character's motivations or where the plot is going—and even if she were spitting sterling dialogue out of her mouth, that damned wig would've done her in.
The look of this film is an exercise in super-dull. Washed-out greys, standard automobiles in disguise and uninventive wardrobe choices make In Time an eye sore—which is all the more shocking because it was shot by Roger Deakins, the cinematographer of choice for the Coen brothers. Let's go ahead and blame the art director and Niccol for the pallid look of this movie.
As for the pacing, the movie feels disjointed and disconnected. The pieces of this movie just don't fit together, as if Niccol didn't shoot with a good script ... or any script.
Timberlake could make a decent action star in a better film. He looks OK pointing a gun, and he hits people with major authority. However, his running style is a little robotic ... he swings his arm while running in a way that makes him look like Robert Patrick's T-1000 in Terminator 2.
And, hey, Cillian Murphy ... spit out that gum. Nothing sucks more than an actor trying to look tough by chewing gum. Who do you think you are, Keanu Reeves? Only he can get away with that trick.
The coolest thing about the movie is that Olivia Wilde plays Timberlake's mom. That's it for cool. The rest of In Time is a promising premise sporting a terrible wig.