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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » In Time (Blu-ray)
In Time (Blu-ray)
Fox // PG-13 // January 31, 2012 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 9, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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Time is money.

No, really! I mean that totally literally, and if you somehow manage to miss that pun the first time through, In Time will help you out by repeating it over and over and over and over and over and over
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and over and over again.

See, In Time is set in a far-flung dystopian future where science has curbstomped the aging gene. Yeah, yeah, you start off as a normal enough little tyke and eat your Wheaties and grow up to be an adult or whatever, but once you hit twenty-five, everything freezes. Whatever you are at that moment is what you'll always be: young and beautiful for the rest of your days. Even though you don't have to fret so much about crow's feet or cancer, your body has its own internal clock that starts ticking away at twenty-five. Seriously, look at those glowing numbers on your forearm there. The benevolent High Sheriffs have bestowed upon you one more year of life. Once the countdown hits zero, it's fade to black, roll credits-time. That's not to say you're necessarily over and done with twelve months later; you can earn more time by toiling away in a factory for slave's wages or maybe borrow an hour or two if someone's feeling generous. When someone asks you if you've got a minute, they don't wanna talk -- they want to stave off death for another sixty seconds. Time is also traded like currency: everything from the water bill to a food truck burrito takes hours off your life. You've gotta be careful with the time you've got because...well, time flies.

So, yeah: aging may be a thing of the past, but capitalism is alive and well. You've got your unwashed masses slaving away in the slums for whatever scraps of seconds are tossed their way, and a dozen Time Zones away are the boo-hiss 1% who are essentially immortal. Whatever group you're born into is generally where you're
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tethered for the rest of your life. There's not a lot of upward mobility there, but Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) manages to move on up to the East Side after being gifted a century by a suicidal, centennial trust fund type (Matt Bomer). It's not all fancy dinners and baccarat, though, as the policeTimekeepers -- led by a fiercely devoted detective (Cillian Murphy) -- suspect Will of having cleaned the guy's clockmurder. Rather than cower in the safety of the shadows, Will and his feisty one-percenter-hostage-slash-love-interest (Amanda Seyfried) play Robin Hood, stealing eons from the rich and distributing those years to the poor. He's not just giving them time; he's giving them hope!!!!!!!!!!!!! The very foundation of this society is starting to rattle, so there are some shootouts and car chases and stuff as nogoodnik gangsters and Timekeepers alike chase down Bonnie-and-Clyde-2525.

In Time is...yeah, kind of a mess. At the end of the day, it's an eighteen page short story in search of a movie. The political and social commentary turns out to be more timely, so to speak, than writer/director Andrew Niccol could ever have anticipated what with the whole I-am-the-99% movement, but it's so heavy-handed. It's not subtext so much as Niccol grabbing you by the shoulders, barking in your face about the
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chasms of economic disparity that separate the rich and the poor, and little bits of spittle flying everywhere. To help stamp out anything resembling ambiguity along the way, every last one of In Time's characters are reduced to one-note plot devices. There's no spark of life or personality to anyone. As much as I've liked Timberlake elsewhere, the lackluster material here really doesn't play to his strengths. It's a stiff, anonymous, room-temperature-glass-of-water performance, and Timberlake struggles with everything from his Razzie-worthy primal-scream-of-grief to his howlingly goofy gait when he runs (and he runs a lot). No one comes out well here. Amanda Seyfried has never looked more drop-dead gorgeous with her porcelain skin, pageboy bob, and anime-sized eyes but there's just...nothing inside. Alex Pettyfer is wildly miscast as an inexplicably British gang leader down in the slums, Vincent Kartheiser doesn't radiate the sort of power and authority that one of the richest men on the planet ought to wield, and Cillian Murphy and Olivia Wilde aren't used to particularly great effect either. Murphy does what he can as a seasoned investigator who believes in The System with an almost religious fervor, but because the part isn't written as anything more than an archetype, he can only elevate it so much.

Niccol is wholly unable to generate any sense of energy or urgency to anything that's going on throughout In Time. The overbearing preachiness plays more like a Sunday morning sermon than a metaphor. The endless onslaught of time-related puns gets really grating really quickly, especially since Timberlake loves to throw in excruciatingly long pauses every time he makes one. Y'know, "I don't have time..." -- hold for eight beats -- "...for this right now" or whatever. In Time's skeleton of a plot is about as standard issue as it gets, just with a few more sci-fi trappings, and the characters that litter it aren't infused with any charisma or imagination whatsoever. I mean, they're never in any danger of coming across as people. Sure, sure, In Time gets a few things right. I genuinely do like the core concept of bartering with life as well as the social, psychological, and economic ramifications of medical science eventually curing so much of what ails us. Some of the time puns really are clever, like that foxy hooker who smirkingly offers ten minutes for an hour. On paper, at least, this is a cast I'd be kinda jazzed about watching in a sci-fi flick. It's just that In Time is a slo-mo collision of an inspired premise with uninspired everything-else. Stagnant, uninvolving, preachy, and aggressively derivative, In Time doesn't warrant anything more than a couple of clicks on Netflix, and even that's kind of pushing it. Rent It.

It's a glossy science fiction flick fresh out of theaters; of course In Time looks great. Roger Deakins' cinematography is strikingly sharp and detailed, the largely muted palette is reproduced flawlessly, and black levels remain impressively substantial throughout. No missteps in the authoring of this disc caught my attention at any time. The one oddity that does creep in is how video-like so much of its final fifteen minutes look to my eyes, but In Time almost certainly looked the same way theatrically, leaving that likely veering somewhere towards pointless nitpicking. A very strong effort.

The AVC encode for In Time spans both layers of this BD-50 disc, and it's properly letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 or so.

In Time is rocking a kinda monstrous 24-bit, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The low-end is constantly snarling, and the surrounds hardly ever ease up on the throttle...everything from subtly convincing
Amanda Seyfried is so lucky!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

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atmosphere to bullets whizzing around every which way to an armored car plowing straight through a glass wall. Distinctness and clarity are top-notch, and In Time's dialogue is consistently rendered cleanly and clearly throughout as well. Very well done.

A six-channel Descriptive Video Service track has also been included, as are Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) and Spanish.

  • The Minutes (17 min.; HD): In Time doesn't spell out how the whole genetically engineered time-is-money schtick got started, but it's not a question that completely goes unanswered. "The Minutes" is a documentary set in the world of In Time, featuring just about everyone in the cast performing in-character and delving deeply into how this dystopian chronocracy came to be. I'll gladly take something as clever and creative as this -- worldbuilding for the win! -- over yet another making-of featurette.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (13 min.; HD): At first, this reel of deleted and extended scenes looks like it's gonna be a wash, heavy on snippets with an extra couple lines of throwaway dialogue. The deeper you get into it, though, the more of substance there is, including a flashback of what happened to Will's father along with Sylvia and Will pulling off another heist. There's also an enthrallingly what-the-fuck dance number with Justin Timberlake and a...hat, and Amanda Seyfried jiggles a little more in her skivvies during a game of strip poker. There are ten scenes in all, and you can cherrypick the ones you want or plow through 'em all at once.

  • Trailer (2 min.; HD): Last up is a high-def theatrical trailer.

The second disc in the set is a hybrid DVD-slash-digital copy. Also tucked inside is a code to play as Sylvia in the In Time iOS game, and the whole thing comes packaged in a metallic cardboard slipcover.

The Final Word
In Time is a potentially compelling concept bobbing around in a sprawling sea of formula and mediocrity. Rent It, I guess.
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