Let Me Spoil That For You: In Time

August 5, 2012 § 5 Comments

Unexpectedly, I’ve come to like Justin Timberlake as an actor.  He has been good on his appearances on Saturday Night Live, he was good in The Social Network, and he seems like a natural actor with good turns in lesser-known films like Alpha Dog.  He hasn’t had any one turn as a starring actor that has stabilized him as a guy that can carry a movie, and after watching In Time, I’m not sure that he ever will.

It’s not that JT was especially bad as an actor in the movie, but I have to question his choices on films and agents, because this is absolutely one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of In Time is interesting: Currency in the future is time and instead of earning money and spending money, you earn and spend time which is kept on a green-lit counter on your forearm.  When your time runs out, you die.  People stop aging at 25 and then you’ve got a year which starts counting down immediately.  The awkwardness of everybody being 25 starts immediately when Timberlake’s mom, played by Olivia Munn, Wilde turns “50” but still looks like Wilde Munn.

It really opens up my eyes to the fact that it’s a good thing that our parents look older as they get older.  I don’t think any of us want to think of our parents as “hot.”  The movie is fast and loose with the whole “age 25″ thing as the movie goes on.

Timberlake, 31, is just one example.  But then there’s Johnny Galecki, 37, Vincent Kartheiser, 33, and Cillian Murphy, 36.  It’s like an older version of just accepting that everyone in Beverly Hills 90210 was supposed to be in high school.  Okay fine, I can accept that, but I can’t accept one of the worst screenplays ever constructed.

The movie starts out with Timberlake as just a boy who loves his mama and she has three days left, but nobody ever seems too worried about having only a day or two left, or even a couple of hours.  So not worried about it that his mom even gives JT “30 minutes for lunch” and then JT gives five minutes to some little girl on the street even though she has plenty of time and he has less than a day.

Later that night, with only a day left, JT decides to go out to a bar (for what reason, we do not know, but all he tries to do is get his best friend Galecki to leave) and ends up saving a guy from getting killed.  This guy has been flaunting his 116 years all night in buying drinks for everyone and now “Minute Men” are here to kill him or steal it or something.  It’s not really sure because JT says that they don’t want to rob him, just kill him because nobody should have that much time.  But JT saves him, for what reason, we do not know.  I guess because he’s the good guy?

That should be obvious enough right?  We knew going into the movie that Timberlake would be the good guy, the protagonist, but you’ll end up being surprised with how his character turns.  He ends up saving the guy but the next morning the guy gives JT his remaining 116 years and kills himself.  We don’t know why.

After he kills himself, these other guys show up to the body but it’s not really explained why because these aren’t Minute Men like from before, this is a group of men led by Cillian Murphy that immediately show up to try and find where the guys time went. Why they know that he died so soon, where to find him, how much time he had?  We don’t know why.

JT’s first move is to go to his best friends house and give him 10 years, this we can understand why.  Then he goes to meet his mom at the bus stop but she’s not there because she couldn’t afford the bus.  It went up to 2 hours and she had only an hour and a half left.  The bus driver wouldn’t let her ride for free and pay later, even though she would die.  Why he was so cold?  We don’t know why.

She runs and runs to meet her son but wasted too many minutes trying to get help and whatnot.  Why didn’t they setup to meet with a little more time left?  Why cut it so close?  We don’t know.  But she dies running into his arms and apparently this sets off JT to do something.  What?  We don’t really know.

JT decides its time to get out of his time zone so he travels to the rich district known as “New Greenwich” (get it?) and everybody seems to immediately notice that he’s not from here because he’s running and hustling around and everyone in the rich district takes their time because they have time.  He decides to go to the casino and spend his newfound time.  Why?  We have no idea.

He gets into a hand with Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) who is really rich and goes all-in.  He risked everything to get to this point even though he was a very big long shot.  (I play poker and let me explain it like this: JT had an inside straight draw, meaning that he had to get a 7 with one card left in order to win.  That gives him an 92% chance of losing.  Yet he risked it all.)  He ended up winning over 1000 years on the hand.  He tells Kartheiser that it wasn’t a risk, he knew he would win.  How?  We don’t know why.

So Kartheiser ends up inviting the guy that just took hundreds of years off of him to a party at his mansion.  Why?  We don’t know.  JT buys a 59-year sports car.  Why?  We don’t know.  Immediately at the party he makes lovey eyes with Amanda Seyfried, Kartheiser’s daughter that he met at the casino, and they go off into the backyard which is actually a beach.  This is when JT really lays the charms on by suggesting they go for a swim but she’s like all “What? I’m rich, I don’t swim!” or something but it’s one of those really setup cliche lovey moments that immediately intertwines the two as soulmates, right?  Okay, fine, whatever.

But then when they get back in the party, Murphy and his goons (one of which looks exactly like Nick Carter and I really wish that it was) are there and they say that they just need to talk to JT.  Kartheiser is like “Okay” and then without asking they just take him upstairs into a room.  Its kinda rude to be conducting interviews in another dudes house without asking permission right?  But they accuse JT of killing that original guy for his 116 years and they take away all of his time except for a couple of days or something.  Why?  Why not at least give him enough himself in a court of law?  By now JT had over 1000 years and you’re accusing him of stealing 100+ years, so why take all of it?  In the future, cops can just kill you?


Except that JT ends up escaping easily by hitting a couple of goons in the face and then, get this, stealing a gun and taking Seyfried hostage.  Like, this girl that he just met and made a lovey swim with, he’s now holding a gun to her face and kidnapping her.  They escape in his new car and get chased down.  The car chase that ensues is not only boring but incredibly cliche as JT ends up driving backwards for awhile and then just getting away.

That sums up the action part of this action move pretty well… its incredibly boring and stupid and easy and cliche.  He escapes danger without much effort.

With only a few hours left, it’s now morning and they’re driving back to his own time zone and then all of a sudden drive over a tire strip and they flip over in the car into one of those man-made ravines in an accident that looks like it should kill or at least seriously injure somebody, but it just knocks them out.  Now they’re back to the Minute Men, not the cops, and those guys steal their time.  Not all of it of course, because that would end the movie, but just enough.  Just enough for JT and Seyfried to find a pawn shop and trade her diamond earrings in for two days.

How did the Minute Men know exactly where to put the tire strip?  We don’t know.

At this point, JT is basically a bad guy, right?  He was falsely accused of killing that guy, but now he’s committing real crimes.  He kidnapped Seyfried.  It’s not “cute.”  It’s not “chivalrous.”  He just kidnapped her.  A swim in the ocean on your first night together doesn’t give you the right to take someone hostage and almost get them killed.  Then as the movie goes on, they BOTH turn into criminals.

They end up robbing the time lending banks that her father owns.  The film tries to turn it into a whole “Robin Hood” thing by stealing the time and then giving it to the needy, but they never explain why any of this happened in the first place.  Yeah, that’s right, they never explain it.  You’re just supposed to accept that the government has given everybody only 25 years and a year, and that some people will get to live forever.  But no real antagonist in the government is ever given.

Is Cillian Murphy, a cop doing his job, really the antagonist?

Or Vincent Kartheiser, a businessman who we’re supposed to hate simply because he has money?

The Minute Men are obvious antagonists because they kill and steal for time, but they’re hardly a big picture “bad guy.”  If anything, the bad guys have become JT and Seyfried as a Mickey & Mallory, Bonnie & Clyde, Robin Hood & Patti Hearst duo.  Except that I have no real reason to care about them, like them, or root for them.

After a 10-year reward is put on the heads of Seyfriend and Timberlake, the Minute Men track them down to a hotel and decide to “fight” to the death.  Fighting is basically the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a science fiction action movie since Equalibrium, except way dumber.

Basically you hold hands with your opponent and the person that has their arm turned over until the other person runs out of time, wins.  Yep, that’s IT.  You expect that there’s more to it?  There isn’t.  Timberlake loses most of the “fight” until he has just seconds left and then he turns his arm over.  OH MY GOD, LOOK, HE TURNED HIS ARM OVER!  Then he takes all of the guys time and takes a gun out of his shoe and shoots the other three Minute Men, who all have horrible reaction time.  And that’s how the Minute Men get killed.

JT and Seyfried decide that they need to steal enough time to balance out the rich and the poor and so they steal a million years from her father.  Again, her father isn’t really the bad guy here.  Maybe he’s greedy.  Maybe he thinks that it’s okay if a few people die for a few people to be immortal, but he hardly setup the system.  Who did?  We don’t know, really.

If you think about it, the system was always going to fail.  The people in poverty would die out in a very short amount of time.  They only have 25+ years and so you eventually will not be having as many babies as you’ll have deaths.  The rich people will never die.  Steve Jobs would never die.  Paul Allen would never die.  Even people of moderately high wealth like a baseball player or actor would probably be able to live for thousands of years.  They’d have lots and lots of kids.  The poor wouldn’t.

So eventually the system would topple over when only rich people lived and the poor people died.  There is no 1% without the 99% to give them all our money.  The whole concept of In Time, ultimately, is flawed.  And if it’s not flawed, well, it’s never explained.  Just like nothing is ever explained in the movie.

Murphy is eventually and cleverly killed when… his time runs out.  Wait, that’s not clever.  That’s just a thing that happens.

So JT and Seyfried end up just barely getting some extra time… in time…. and then decide that they need to steal more time and give it out to the poor.  By now they’ve just fully turned over from the good guys in the movie, to bad guys.  They’re just criminals by now.  Huh.  Okay.  Well, interesting move, I’ll say that!


In Time had some good production value.  It has good actors like Murphy and Timberlake.  But wow, what a shitty story.  The script was, without a doubt, one of the flimsiest, cliche, unexplained, boring, plothole-ridden, pieces of crap that has ever been given a big Hollywood budget.  Usually bad screenplays are only greenlit when a star decides he or she wants to be in it.  I can only imagine that JT decided this would be a hit, that it was a good movie, and so they made it.  He was also really wrong.

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol, who wrote Truman Show, Gattaca, and Lord of War, I thought was better than a piece of shit like this.  I guess he wasn’t.

If there’s a reason for why he made this terrible movie, it was never explained.

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