Friday, October 28, 2011

RftP: In Time

I'd almost say that In Time is this years Skyline only by all accounts Battle: Los Angeles was, rather conveniently, this years Skyline and In Time isn't quite that bad. Still pretty god damned awful by any metric, In Time takes its high concept and... well... proceeds to weigh it down with leads that are phoning it in, cut rate production values, "Time" puns out of an 80's action film, and, most critically, no real attention/consistency to its core plot mechanic other than when we need to play it up for dramatic effect.

Anyways, In Time runs on the following premise: everyone in this world is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. As a form of population control, once you turn 25 your biological clock quite literally starts ticking down from one year - conveniently indicated to you by a glowing green digital countdown on your left wrist - and this is how much time you have left to live. More time can be earned by working, and the time you have is spent as currency. You can trade it by taking a hold of someone's right hand, take out loans, pay for things via a bar code reader, or, in one of the silliest conceits of the year, fucking arm wrestle to the death over it. Many of the poor in this world turn 25 and find themselves down to a day or less as they pay off debts incurred while growing up by themselves or those of their parents. On the flip side, the rich live sheltered away in separate enclaves protected by bodyguards from any accidental deaths by hiding away in their homes, entertainment centres, and offices while accumulating millennia off the backs of those left in slums to slave in their factories and workplaces until they drop dead. Literally.

In more capable hands, there's quite a film to be made out of that. Unfortunately, what we get here pretty much wastes everyone involved as it proceeds to open with some maudlin melodrama between Justin Timberlake and his mom, Olivia Wilde, side trips through a third rate poker game outta James Bond, and then goes all stockholm syndrome meets Robin Hood with Amanda Seyfried. Meanwhile Cillian Murphy tries to pretend he's still working with Chris Nolan while channeling Tommy Lee Jones from the Fugitive if the character had 50 years to get completely jaded about how the world works. It's pretty brutal and made only more so because it uses its core plot points in ways that are completely implausible. For example, JT gets "arrested" at a night party, all the time he's accumulated gets "seized" until he only has two hours left to prevent him from running.... except he runs.... and is still alive at daybreak the next day despite the fact that the girl he's just abducted has made it plenty clear she's not giving him any of her time at that point.

Situations like that persist throughout the film but the worst abuser are the "running" sequences where they quite clearly are either the luckiest people in town in terms of where they run low or the fucking Flash. It's at this point you realize the plot device exists to serve the action sequences, plausibility and story be damned, and just go "fuck it, even for a popcorn film this is shit." The production values do nothing to counter this; there's an absolutely laughable CGI gar crash, the supporting cast and extras are just god awful (especially those playing bodyguards who handle their weapons like they first met in Costume, although you could possibly make an argument that's an intentional choice based on the fact that they usually never have to defend), and everything looks like it was shot on a single backlot somewhere unless they were in a city.

It just doesn't work, and more so because it's cut in a way that makes it very clear no one gives a shit about the plot and/or scenes were dropped and JT + Seyfried are acting like they're in a romantic comedy somewhere; quite possibly because they're both given some absolutely preposterous lines to say and just can't keep a straight face while doing it. Additionally, the action scenes are pretty limited and no one's going to come out of this thinking JT just set himself up for a long career as an ass kicker 'cause he barely does any throughout the film. When he does, someone's decided the best way to highlight him is to make sure every fight is over in 6 seconds through having him be some sort of ghetto Ninja with no setup as to why. The rest of the time he's just running and shooting over his shoulder.

All in all, this is a film you should catch on TV someday. Preferably off an antenna.

PS: Cillian Murphy's character? Totally JT's dad, even if the film never admits it.

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