DVD Release Date: January 31, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: October 28, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, brief strong language, some sexuality and partial nudity)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Actors: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Shyloh Oostwald, Johnny Galecki, Colin McGurk, Michael William Freeman

It’s no secret that time is one of the human race’s most valuable commodities, and that idea is precisely what fuels In Time, a stylish futuristic thriller starring two appealing-enough leads, Justin Timberlake (Friends with Benefits) and Amanda Seyfried (Red Riding Hood).

Set somewhere in the future (a specific date is never referenced), the viewer is immediately transported to an alternate reality that doesn’t look all that different from, say, downtown Los Angeles, save for some minor aesthetic tweaks, particularly on automobiles as we know them (more stripes, different body shape) and that everyone, yes, even your parents, stops aging at 25, no surgery or Botox required (a phenomenon that’s never explained).

What radically separates this new world from ours is that time has replaced money as the currency du jour. If anything, the chasm separating the rich and poor has never been greater, now that mankind’s very existence depends on what’s in the bank—or more specifically, what those neon green numbers on everyone’s arms read.

Now that net worth is measured in life span, rather than dollar and cents, even the simplest, everyday acts are carefully weighed. To wit, would you still enjoy your morning Starbucks if it cost you four minutes of your life? Is a fancy new sports car still a priority when the dealer’s charging 59 years? How about work? What career would actually pay enough to keep you alive and enjoying your favorite after-hours activities? Or would you opt for a life of crime so you could rack up as many minutes as possible at someone else’s expense?

These are all intriguing questions, of course, but none of them are addressed with much clarity or thoughtfulness in In Time. In fact, for all the clichéd dialogue about making time count, the filmmakers don’t make the most of their own opportunities. It’s an intriguing premise without the benefit of inspired execution, and before long, the storyline is bordering on ridiculous.

Long before that happens, however, we’re introduced to our leading man Will Salas (Timberlake), a factory worker in the ghetto neighborhood of Dayton. Shown buff and shirtless as often as possible, he clearly spends all the minutes he can spare at the gym. When he’s not working or perfecting those pectorals, he’s plotting how he and his mother, who, in a humorous bit of casting is played by 27-year-old Olivia Wilde (The Change-Up) who’s three years younger than Timberlake in real life, can escape to the decidedly upscale New Greenwich instead.

But as hard as he tries, Will simply can’t stop his mother’s clock from running out. So as you can probably imagine, it feels downright serendipitous when he runs into a mysterious man with a century to spare. While the guy’s clearly got enough saved for vampire-esque immortality, he’s simply grown tired of living. And with a mere clasp of his wrist to Will’s, the method everyone uses to transfer those elusive minutes and hours, Will now has enough time for whatever he desires. Meanwhile, his new friend lets his body fall into a nearby river after he times out for good.

Once the man’s body turns up, Will is the one who’s implicated for his murder, thanks to suspicious-looking surveillance footage. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit by the resident timekeeper (Cillian Murphy, TRON: Legacy), he’s now on the run. Before the requisite cat and mouse kicks into overdrive, a night of gambling at a ritzy members-only club conveniently allows for another important chance meeting with the richest guy in town, Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser, Rango). Naturally, he’s got a beautiful daughter, Sylvia (Seyfried), who likes the look of Will from the first time she sees him.

Perhaps sensing an opportunity to escape her ho-hum, sheltered existence, Sylvia is more than happy to accept Will’s invitation to “get out of here,” despite her daddy’s reservations. While it’s clear they have a flirty chemistry from the get-go, he’s got way more on his mind than a relationship. He’s hoping that kidnapping her will lead to a ransom fat enough to rescue his friends (and everyone else) from poverty.

Sadly, it’s when the story goes all Robin Hood meets Bonnie and Clyde that In Time becomes a waste of just that. Instead of building upon the fascinating foundation established in the film’s first third, the remainder is just a cheap attention grab that’s not only illogical but completely unsatisfying—and really, who’s got the time (or patience) for that?

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