109 minutes

It's simultaneously unfair and irresistible to define writer/director Andrew Niccol's latest mindbending concept as the sum total of ideas nicked from earlier films - irresistible because you can see all the "origin quotes", unfair because what Mr. Niccol does with them is something unique and intensely disturbing. Essentially an insouciant take on Bonnie & Clyde set in a retro-futuristic dystopia with shades of the director's earlier cult hit GattacaLogan's Run and Metropolis via Godard's Alphaville, In Time takes place in a world where humans are genetically programmed to stop aging at 25 - but where time is literally money, as everyone has only one more year to live unless they can add time to their inbuilt obsolescence clock, with the result that the rich can live forever and the poor die young. At heart, In Time is a writer's piece, as seen in the constant substitutions of time for money in the sharp, neo-noir dialogue and in the occasionally disturbing layering of youth and death throughout - never have carpe diem and "living each minute as if it were your last" been literally put to such good use in a Hollywood blockbuster.

     In Time's premise is so strong that, much aided by Roger Deakins' elegantly cool lensing and Alex McDowell's evocative production design (using real-life Los Angeles locations to visualize a hyper-stylized near future), it survives the shifts in gear into a fast-moving thriller: odd couple Justin Timberlake (as a guy from the wrong side of town falsely accused of murder) and Amanda Seyfried (as a millionaire's daughter fed up with the status quo) join forces to fight the powers that be, chased by dogged cop Cillian Murphy and ruthless villain Alex Pettyfer. It's in this attempt at marrying his high-concept dystopia with the demands of commercial filmmaking (probably to ensure that In Time wouldn't follow in the footsteps of Gattaca, under-appreciated on release only to become a cult classic on video) that Mr. Niccol lets his side down: you can feel the premise losing some of its underlying strength and gravity to become a smart and sexy actioner with a brain. Still, we should be thankful for small mercies: even this underused noggin is enough to raise In Time above nearly all of the Hollywood competition for the year.

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Johnny Galecki, Collins Pennie; and Alex Pettyfer.
     Directed and written by Andrew Niccol; produced by Mr. Niccol, Eric Newman, Marc Abraham; music by Craig Armstrong; director of photography (colour by DeLuxe, widescreen), Roger Deakins; production designer, Alex McDowell; costume designer, Colleen Atwood; film editor, Zach Staenberg.
     A Regency Enterprises presentation of a New Regency/Strike Entertainment production. (US distributor and world sales, Twentieth Century-Fox.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 12 (Lisbon), November 2nd 2011.


Popular Posts