Every once in a while a movie comes along with true ingenuity and creativity that bolsters your spirits and makes you glad you went out to the multiplex. Although I don't consider it a masterpiece like Memento, In Time definitely fits the bill for something clever that delights the eyes. Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried serve as our Bonnie and Clyde in a digital world where Robin Hood ideals are (as usual) celebrated. On this version of Earth, time is the only currency and if you aren't one of the privileged few, you can expect an early demise when you run out of it. Will (Timberlake) is gifted with centuries worth of time and decides to do whatever he can to destroy the unfair system.
It's been awhile since we've seen an honest-to-goodness alternate reality in a sci-fi flick. Thankfully, there's no apocalypse story here about how our evil ways in the current age led to this inhumane system (mostly because it can be seen as a metaphor for our current inequalities anyway). Nope, audiences are just expected to jump off the deep end of disbelief and trust that renaissance man JT would never steer them wrong. You can't question the fact that people don't age after 25 (allowing Hollywood to get what it really wants and keep oldsters out of their hip movies), they have green ticking clocks on their forearms (reminiscent of Holocaust tattoos), and when a character says "Do you have a minute?" they mean it literally. That's fine--I like the whimsy of a different-but-same planet, especially when it's not ruined by the presence of futuristic jumpsuits.
There are just a couple of things I couldn't ignore though. First of all, I am willing to forgive the movie its few plot holes when it puts so much effort into using cheeky phrases about time that made me chuckle. However, at the end of a story like this, you're supposed to feel bad for whomever we lost in the battle, or want to start a revolution. This movie's heartbeat starts really strong and peters out fast, so at the closing scene, my reaction was less of a fist pump and more of a purse grab (my own, thank you very much). I was disappointed to feel so ready and resigned to go back to the daily grind.
The other issue is the casting of my beloved Timberlake as the hero. Although in director Andrew Niccol's other film Gattaca, Ethan Hawke stars as the same kind of unlikely victor, just because JT has bags under his eyes doesn't make him pitch perfect for this role. I found his performance to be the least strong out of his last several, and it makes me wonder if he was more meant for comedic roles where he gets to exercise that abundant charm of his. But there's still plenty of time to figure it out.