In the dystopic future world of In Time, time has replaced money as the currency of the world, or at least of the place where it's set in, as we never get to see "foreign time". Dayton is the dwelling of the time-poor, while New Greenwich is the heaven for the time-rich. These two locations are the polar opposites of each other, and in more ways than one. In Dayton the deaths are so frequent, that living is a constant fear. In New Greenwich living equals to immortality and that instills fear of death, or lack of it, in the minds of the people. In short, everyone is in constant fear; pretty much how we're nowadays. The concept of this film, I believe, was not to bring in anything new to the table, but to bring the air around us to solid shape. We often say things like "saved by the skin o' the teeth" and "saved by a hair's breath" and all that; In Time personifies all that by making humans a living digital clock; turning our figurative metaphors (often hilarious) into literal.
What turned me off the most was the lack of development. I'll try to explain it the best as I can. True, human nature almost impossibly cannot be changed, but is it really so damn one-sided, no matter what shiny new toys man is given to play with? Ever since we've found out that our time on earth is limited, we've always wanted to capture immortality. The ticking of the clock is seen by many as an ever-present reminder of our doom. Does that metaphor really need to be turned into literal? Has mankind really become that unsympathetic that they turned themselves into the one object that has been mocking them for forever? Or have they finally decided to swim with the tide? Whatever the case may be, In Time does a fairly poor job in explaining things, rather it just focuses on the generic moments that we see in countless other films, in which time is hung on a wall. With an interesting premise as this, one expects it to be philosophic, and one almost gets his wish fulfilled by the opening narration of Will Salas - the protagonist. But he is quickly betrayed of that illusion when he realizes the film is only interested in the brawny aspects of it, not in the brainy.
"Things used to be simpler once, or so am I told" - "For a few to be immortal, many must die" - "We are not meant to live forever" - These are not philosophic quotes, just rehashing of the everyday mentality we have adopted. Though I'm guessing that was their aim, I however wasn't satisfied. I wanted explanations, strong-based answers, but instead was treated as a thirsty man given a quarter filled glass of lukewarm water. Very early in the film we see an unfortunate soul "timed out" in the streets. Later on we get to see how one gets timed-out - when the timer reaches zero, an electric jerk passes through the body; a signalling that that person is dead. It shows us the style of execution, but doesn't dissect it to show us the internal workings of it. How does a man die in this dystopic vision? Does the heart give out? or maybe an important vein is ruptured as soon as the timer reaches zero? or maybe they have no hearts, seeing they're genetically engineered and all. Oh well, even Asimo was an awesome looking robot... until we got to see him walk.
Will Salas, a resident, and overall good guy, from Dayton, arrives at New Greenwich, for revenge. The reason for this attitude spurs from the "untimely" death of his mother. Once there, he quickly catches the ogling eye of Sylvia Weis, the poor little rich girl of the film. In the eating sequence that follows we get to learn something about Will. When asked by an attractive waitress why he does everything quickly, he coyly responds "Not everything". Well, whatever that means. Also, that Sylvia cannot keeps her eyes off of him, hinting at a romance that abruptly blooms out of nowhere. Maybe the reason for eye-balling was because she sensed a potential system-toppling strength in him? Or maybe due to he resembled Justin Timberlake a bit too much?... whatever the case may be, a little something more than an autograph on a tissue paper or a thumbs-up picture is hinted upon. A brief glance turns into a tryst turns into a full-time romance turns into a modern, picturesque Bonnie & Clyde in picaresque situations. As much as I found the story unappealing, I found the aforementioned couple to be even less impressive. Good looks in hand, Will and Sylvia seemed to me like an amateurish painted couple come to life. They felt plastic, cartoonish even. Mind you, I'm talking about the characters and how they were written for the screen; not the actors and how they portrayed them. Sylvia is too precious to be acting like a gun-moll, and Will is too hard-boiled to be running around like a crazed squirrel. Had he been one of those bloody-revenge guys with snarling expressions, then I would've been fine with it. In all, good looks, unconvincing characteristics.
From the performances, Justin Timberlake delivered a somewhat charismatic performance as Will Salas. He's still a long-shot away from becoming a great actor, but seeing his recent acting successes - Social Network and Bad Teacher - he's on his way on becoming the next Will Smith; or at least in the rendering stage of it. Amanda Seyfriend as Sylvia Weis was pretty interesting, but nothing breakthrough or amazing. She was, honestly speaking, a fish out of water. Though a decent performance, she consistently gets dragged down by almost poor character development. She goes from daddy's little girl to a cherry bomb in such a dizzying manner, it's virtually impossible. The transition actually makes the choppy editing Death Race 2000 laboriously slow. Alex Pettyfer, as I have said before in my I Am Number Four review, is an impressive young actor and a strong candidate for the young face of the future (at least film-wise), though someone needs to change his current Wikipedia picture as it clearly violates that rule. His performance as Fortis was impressive, enough to make him a breathing, living person. He should've been given a much longer screentime, and a good death scene, too. Vincent Kartheiser too was impressive in his role as Philippe Weis, father of Sylvia. I enjoyed the deliberate slowness in him. But the cake that takes the display is Cillian Murphy, as Raymond Leon, the Timekeeper. He reminded me of the mysterious 40's detectives in trench-coats and of those so-called psychic-detectives who are inwardly too poetic for their own good. His performance = classic!
In conclusion, In Time is OK, nothing special. The sole reason why it failed to snare its chains in me is because of its failure to explain the logical aspects of the story. Take a look at Terminator and its immediate sequel. Everything is laid out, explained perfectly, hence why it is a classic. Take a look at The Surrogates; absolutely nothing. A hodgepodge mess of the very things which cause a downfall in sci-fi movies. In Time falls somewhere around there.