In Time is a workmanlike dystopian haves vs. have-nots science fiction picture.
Here’s the story: in a few hundred years, someone figures out how to halt the aging process at 25. To stop overpopulation, at 25 a one-year counter starts ticking off on the person’s arm. Once that counter goes to zero, the person drops dead. As with any economic system, people separate into haves and have-nots. Everyone seems more or less ok with this, until one man (Justin Timberlake) trips to the fact that the haves are rigging the system.
It’s a neat premise that follows in the grand tradition of science fiction as social commentary and popular entertainment. Add that Timberlake is a likeable film actor and that both his love interest/accomplice (Amanda Seyfried) and antagonist (Cillian Murphy) know how to hit their marks, and you have a fine picture.
So, what’s the difference between “workmanlike” or “fine” and “good?” Ambiguity. Vision. Creativity. In Time feels like a low-budget third draft. It’s all too simple and clear to be actually “good,” and the use of time as a metaphor for money stops being interesting after about ten minutes. Toss in a future LA whose very best neighborhood appears to be the Wilshire District around 7:00 am on a Sunday and technology that’s only about $100,000 worth of production budget cooler than our own, and you wind up with “workmanlike” and “fine.”
And yet, workmanlike and fine are, well, fine. I don’t recommend that you go out of your way to see In Time, but if dystopian haves vs. have-nots science fiction is your thing, well, have at it.