“Gattaca” director Andrew Niccol’s sense of the zeitgeist is as on the money as ever with “In Time,” a sci-fi parable that plays like “Occupy Wall Street: The Movie.”
Though its story arc is nothing if not conventional, this startling commentary on a world of haves and those-we’ll-keep-from-having touches on the greatest sci-fi trope of all: dystopia, how the future looks because of the things we do wrong today.
Justin Timberlake is Will Salas, a young guy who will be “25” to the end of his days. Or hours. In this future, people stop aging at 25. Then, unless they can buy, borrow or steal time from another, they die.
“I don’t have time” has a whole new meaning to the working poor. They sprint, breathlessly, from home to work to date night and constantly stare at the luminescent digits counting down on their arm. Time, for all of them, is running out.
The gangs that rule the place are “Minutemen,” thieves who steal from others, kill at will and drive cool retro cars. Portis, given a nicely petulant taste by Alex Pettyfer, is leader of the pack.
The rich, barricaded in their own fortress “time zones,” stockpile the years, live spectacularly well and spectacularly long. But they live without risk, in fear of the one thing that can get them: accidental death.
An act of kindness earns Will time, enough of it to change time zones. He goes undercover and resolves to live it up and take the rich “for everything they’ve got.” That’s where he gambles with the rich guy (Vincent Kartheiser from “Mad Men”). That’s where he meets the rich man’s stunning, rebellious daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). And that’s where he runs afoul of the timekeepers, led by the obsessed Javertlike maintainer of the status quo, Ray Leon (Cillian Murphy, terrific).
Timberlake is more adequate than epic in this leading man turn, and Seyfried, in a red flapper’s bob, impossibly high heels and provocatively short skirts, still seems an innocent young thing playing at being bad.
“In Time” has its silly side, its eye-rolling moments mixed in with the pungent observations about modern society. When Will and Sylvia go on the lam, the film gets a needed jolt of adrenalin. It’s a pity Niccol’s script doesn’t give them anywhere to go.
“In Time” (2½ stars)
Justin Timberlake holds his own in this sci-fi parable of haves and have-nots. Time itself is the measure of wealth. Some strong observations about society are countered by ho-hum settings that look like everyday TV shows. With Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy.
Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexuality and strong language.
Showing: Alderwood, Cinebarre, Everett Mall, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Metro, Pacific Place, Thorton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade Mall.