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In Time: Not Worth Your Time

I feel like I should start this post off with some sort of pun about time in which I remind you that time is literally money in the film, In Time. Like, “I promise I won’t waste your time.” I say this because the first third of the movie made sure that its audience understood that time is literally money. It’s a pretty radical and confusing concept, so let me spell it out for you: People age until they’re 25 and then they get one extra year. The people have a limited amount of time to live, so they exchange it for various goods. What’s more, they are paid for their labor with more time. So when a person says, “I don’t have time for that,” in this society, they are referring both to the literal idea of time as a force that moves consistently forward and the currency that they use. Time is money. Money is time.

But seriously, if you run out of time, you die. You “clock out”. Say you miss the bus on the way to pick up some time from your son. If you don’t run, you could run out of time. And then you’d die. This happened to Justin Timberlake’s mom. She was running, she ran out of time, she made an awkward noise, and she died in his arms. So time is actually time, an ever-ticking clock counting down to your death. If you keep getting time, you keep living. If you run out of time, you die.

Thus, while time is money, it is also just time. DID I BLOW YOUR MIND?

I know this might be a bit much to understand, but luckily for you, the writers of this movie not only painstakingly explain the time-is-currency concept, but continue to beat you over the head with it until you get it. Or until it’s not just Justin Timberlake’s failure as a dramatic actor that makes you want to leave the theatre.

On a somewhat related note, Justin Timberlake is a totally unconvincing crier. This is the first time he really gets into the weeping and the wailing that I’ve seen, and I get the feeling that he’s never done it before, as if he emerged the womb as douche-y and self-important as he is now. Timberlake does well in roles that are basic variations of his bro-tacular self (The Social Network, Friends with Benefits, Alpha Dog), but when it comes to being dramatic, it’s totally un-engaging. Even when he tries to act dramatically in limited way, like trying to make us believe that his character fears “clocking out” (as opposed to how Timberlake would react to imminent death, which would be to simply smirk and say, “I’m too cool to die”) , his shiny patina of douche elicits nothing from his audience but boredom.

But Timberlake isn’t the only downfall of this movie. I suppose that the whole time is money thing is supposed to be some sort of profound metaphor for the realness of poverty and the rigidness of our modern conception of time, but honestly, the way that this movie bastardizes an actually interesting idea is completely distracting. Riddled by poor acting, poor writing, and an awful production quality, the film spends so much time trifling with the superficiality of this future society that it totally gives up on producing any sort of coherent or valuable plot.

(Speaking of which, apparently in the future, we’ll be really into remaking vintage Dodge Challengers and then covering them entirely in matte. Who has time for side mirrors, man? Hydraulic touch doors, though? That’s a necessity.)

While I’m guessing this movie wanted to leave me with questions about Robin-Hood-esque nobility and other complications characteristic of cerebral action movies (What does this mean for society? Is this our natural course as capitalist consumers?), I instead spent a lot of time asking questions about how a movie with such a great idea and seemingly large budget could be created without some sort of continuity editor. Surely someone should have pointed out that they keep changing the way they exchange time between people. Or suggested that, since this movie is so annoyingly obsessed with time, maybe time should pass as quickly in the film as it does in real life (so much time ticking towards death is spent kissing in slow motion). Or perhaps pointed out that the script never quite explained how Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried got their hands on that random armored truck. (Seriously. It just randomly appeared. Either that or I fell asleep.) I wish I could say that this film took on too much, that it neglected the continuity and plot details because the over-arching themes were just so important, but I can’t. I feel like the producers just decided that Justin Timberlake’s face was enough of a draw and decided to get drunk. And honestly, that’s probably a better use of your time as well.

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