"In Time" offers one of the best concepts of the fall movie season. The execution of that concept is occasionally clunky, but the film is still fast-moving, thought-provoking and fun.
Borrowing a bit from the sci-fi classic "Logan's Run," "In Time" is set in a dystopian future where human bodies have been genetically engineered to stop aging at 25.
Eternal life sounds great (though the introduction of sexy Olivia Wilde as Justin Timberlake's mom might be the most unsettling concept of the year) — except that after 25 years, citizens are given just 365 more days to live, ticking off inexorably on a digital readout on their arms.
Here, time is literally money. Everything, from a cup of coffee to a bus ride to a fancy sports car, costs minutes, days or months off the arm clock. When it strikes zero, the body stops working.
Lower-class citizens work or borrow or steal to earn more time, while the wealthy — segregated into fancier time zones — hold literally hundreds of years.
It's a cool and unique idea, and it's utilized in a variety of ways. There are international time markets. There are roving bands of time thieves, called Minutemen. There are pawn shops, which will hand out days for your diamond earrings.
Justin Timberlake stars as Will Salas, a hustler living day to day, until a chance encounter makes him rich. The system, however, isn't designed to let the lower class move up the ranks, and Will soon finds himself over his head.
The film devolves from high concept to chase film over the last half, as Will and a rebellious but bland heiress (Amanda Seyfried) go on the run from a dogged time cop (Cillian Murphy) yanked straight from "Les Miserables."
With our country in its current financial crisis, "In Time" is, well, a timely thriller. It doesn't always work, and it doesn't take full advantage of its setup, but it's worth spending two hours of your life on.
Rental Recommendation: Johnny Depp did a real-time thriller, way before Jack Bauer thought of it, in 1995's "Nick of Time." Grade: B
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