Justin vs injustice

Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried on the lam in In Time.

They hadn't quite grasped the whole concept of skateboarding.

2011 | 12 | 105 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£27.99 (triple-play Blu-ray)
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser

In Time’s writer/director would benefit if they ever set up Pun-aholics Anonymous. His first speech could go something like this: “My name is Andrew Niccol, and I got so distracted by filling my SF dystopia with ‘clever’ plays on the word ‘time’ that I forgot to make any meaningful points”.

In the year 2161, time – or rather, lifespan – has become currency. Humanity has been genetically engineered to stop ageing at 25. Thereafter, people are paid in minutes and seconds (a coffee costs four minutes), with the count displayed in glowing numerals on their arm. This gives a new meaning to phrases like “time poor” – and, unfortunately, countless others. Barely a scene seems to pass without someone declaring, “I don’t have time”, “Don’t waste my time” or the like; you don’t kill someone, you “clean their clock”. It could only be more annoying if the actors winked at the audience every time.

As a means of discussing the inequity of the way wealth is distributed (particularly the disparity between the first world and the third world) the concept has obvious potential. Unfortunately both Will, Justin Timberlake’s class warrior, and Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), the heiress who’s initially his hostage and latterly (with shades of Patty Hearst) his willing accomplice are too busy chasing about on the lam to address the issues.

With its washes of green and amber and its photogenic cast, the film certainly looks pretty. It also has its moments. When Vincent Kartheiser’s mega-rich centenarian introduces his mother-in-law, his wife and his daughter, all three of whom look the same age, it’s troubling; the implications of this are never really teased out though, presumably in case it becomes disturbing – or interesting.

Unfortunately, Niccol’s dystopia never really feels like anything other than a depthless, stylish sleek surface. It’s hard to see how this world could come about, or how it could survive for long – for one thing, since time is passed on by holding hands, killing someone is as easy as grabbing their arm and running down their clock. There are cheesy episodes of classic Trek where the allegorical world presented feels more robust and plausible.


The DVD just has deleted scenes (13 minutes) – worth watching for a daft sequence of Timberlake hiding from his pursuers by dancing. The Blu-ray adds “The Minutes” (16 minutes), which uses interviews with the characters to establish the set-up (pretty pointless viewing after you’ve seen the film, unfortunately). Both formats feature a digital copy; the Blu-ray also comes with a DVD.

Ian Berriman

For an alternative perspective on In Time, read our review of the theatrical release.

Read more of our DVD reviews.