Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Time. B

How could Andrew Niccol, one of the best sic-fi storytellers around, come up with maybe his most intriguing premise, and turn it into a genre action picture? Well, it's not as mysterious as it might seem. Niccol introduces his concept within the opening seconds of the movie. If you haven't heard about it, the gist of it is that time has literally become money. People are born with 13 digits on their arm, representing time in years, months, weeks, days, and seconds. If one's time runs out, they die instantly. So the wealthy have hundreds of years of time, while the lower class are forced to live day by day, stressing over the fact that if they don't get a daily wage, they're toast. So what's so good about this world? Well, first, one does not have to worry about time until age 25, and once they do, they never age. Now, Niccol's interests are much different than they were in his most known work, Gattaca. He doesn't really develop the science or the history of his concept, and he presents the complexities of it in shallow ways-perhaps because his characters are mainly caricatures from other films. Justin Timberlake was particularly frustrating, possessing neither the intelligence of Ethan Hawke in Gattaca nor the bad ass of a Jason Statham or Bruce Willis. I loved him in The Social Network, which leads me to believe he's only good in flashy performances. Here he's mostly serious with a handful of terrible one liners to compensate. In Time is more interested in being an intelligent action movie than a sophisticated thriller. I'm okay with this in theory, but the problem with the film is that besides its awesome concept, it is shockingly standard. And because the movie introduces this idea of money as time, the novelty of it actually wears out after a while. Thus, In Time doesn't really have a reason to exist as long as it does. Yet in spite of this, the movie could be awful and still worth seeing for its smart premise. Bad action movies are sometimes fun, but this is a decent one with an outstanding concept. Niccol sets the bar low (the complete opposite of his previous work) as far as the narrative and the characters, yet he never lets his concept get lost in the shuffle, and that's what makes In Time stand out. Seek it out; it's one of the more underrated films from last year.

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