Well last night, Mike picked me up in a minivan with Rebecca, Josh, and Josh’s cousin Matt who had just gotten off the Pacific Crest Trail and was understandably somewhat shell-shocked by the whole experience, and we went to see IN TIME starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Pete Campbell from Mad Men, and the always-imminently-frenchable Cillian Murphy.
I’d have to say my hopes were high. This movie has an awesome concept and looked awesome in previews, has an overbearing political message I agree with, plus I love three of the cast members and am fine with the third. However, to say my hopes were dashed a million trillion times against the most jagged rocks in the universe would be putting it much too mildly. Was I disappointed? You bet. However, when leaving the theater I found a dollar bill on the ground, which almost made up for everything.
In Time is about a world in which time….is LITERALLY money. Everybody has time the way we currently have money–some have tons, some have none. Rich people are immortal; poor people drop dead in the street when their time runs out. They pay for things with time, and the price of shit is always going up. “10 minutes for a cup of coffee? I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!”
This is a cool concept and a perfectly reasonable sci-fi allegory! Unfortunately we are told the entire thing during a 4-minute opening-scene voiceover performed unconvincingly by Justin Timberlake, clearly after test audiences filled with assholes were like “WAIT WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE CLOCKS ON THEIR ARMS AGAIN???” So atop an image of JT’s lovely naked sleeping face next to the green glowing clock on his arm we are told “Welcome to the opening credits. Everybody is genetically modified to be only 25 years old. After that you get one year. I don’t know why, nobody knows why. We all have these clocks on our arms so you can see how much time everybody has left. We use time instead of money. Rich people have lots of time. Poor people don’t, it’s really unfair and is also an allegory for the Western Capitalist system.” This points to a general problem with this movie, which is that the dialogue is just horrendously bad. Every single moment of dialogue is somehow deeply expository, like as if real people are constantly going around to each other like “Hello, I am on my way to work, I work at a bank, a bank is a place where you put your money and they invest it in a wide variety of unethical ventures,” and the other person is like “Have a good day, I’m a housewife, but it’s 2011 so I have a lot of feminist angst and will probably be willing to run away with you after you rob that bank at the end of Act I.”
And when people aren’t speaking like that to each other, in this movie, they’re just responding to whatever the other person said with rhetorical questions. “We’re gonna make it.” “Are we?” etc. “You can do it.” “Can I?”
How much better would this movie have been if it took us 20 minutes just to figure out what everyone was talking about with “Time” this and “minutes” that, and what if the clocks on the arms weren’t literal and green and glowing but it was all just sort of vague? That’s my kind of movie, but I guess I’m not 85% of the public. If only.
Everyone wears black except the poor people, who wear weird teal sweatshirts and factory jumpsuits. Cop cars are 1973 Dodge Chargers except they’re electric so they whine instead of rumble, and they are all, as Rebecca pointed out, “matte black.” Cillian Murphy wears a crazy leather trench coat with 3-foot-wide lapels and a bunch of zippers and buttons and stuff. He is always imminently frenchable but he did not look good in that coat, I’ll be honest.
So yeah. Justin Timberlake and his mom, who is his same age except she’s fifty, GET IT, hot women playing really old women (“turning 25 for the 25th time” LOL), share a restful morning in their crummy ghetto apartment (the word “ghetto” was uttered by a character approximately once per five minutes for the entirety of the film) talking about how much time they have left. “How much you got?” “1 hour” “you better get to work” etc. We see scenes of penury and hustling, everybody in the ghetto has constantly like only 5 minutes left to live and is just running and running, trying to make a couple minutes here and there. JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. We are told, verbally, many times, that running is a sign that you are poor, because rich people have all the time in the world. There is even a scene where Cillian Murphy is chasing Timberdude and Seyfried as they are making their getaway after robbing Pete Campbell from Mad Men of one million years and he tells the magical car-tracing robot to “look for the slowest car…..if they’ve got a million years, they’re in NOOOOO hurry.” Um, right.
I’m getting ahead of myself–the Marxist revolutionary rhetoric doesn’t begin until AT LEAST 13 minutes into the film!
So Timberguy’s mom goes to pay off her loan at Pete Campbell from Mad Men’s Time Lending bank and only has 2 hours left on her clock but the bus ride costs 2 hours all of a sudden and it’s a 2 hour walk home to where her son can give her some time! IS THERE ANYTHING THAT IS CLOSER OR CHEAPER THAN 2 HOURS? No! So she runs, for 2 hours, in high heels.
There is a lot of running for 2 hours in high heels in this movie, prompting me to wonder if in this alternate reality, not only have people been genetically modified to only be 25 forever, but also women’s feet are literally high-heel-shaped hooves. Because otherwise, I just don’t know. It’s no joke what Amanda Seyfried gets up to later in those things, I’m telling you. Cactus desert high-speed run-chase in 5-inch stilettos! Ditto nighttime rooftop scramble with guns blasting! GIRL, GET SOME RUNNING SHOES! I know you’ve got the time!
So JT’s mom is running and running, please someone help me I only have 8 seconds left to live!!!!! and JT is running toward her, MOM! MOOOOM! And she’s like WILL! WILLLLL! And he’s holding out his arm, because I forgot to tell you people trade time by pressing their wrists together, so he’s like holding out his arm, like desperately trying to give her some of his time, and she’s like WILLLL!!!!! Because that’s his name, and then JUST as they reach each other she goes “BLURGH!” and her heart stops and she collapses into his arms, and then, because I guess the director has been in a coma for the past 50 years, the camera spirals up into a birds-eye view as Timberlake kneels in the middle of the street holding his dead mother and then throws his head back and goes “NOOOOOOOOOOO.”
Jesus Christ the world’s biggest spider just walked by! Holy shit, this spider is no joke! I better put my feet up.
So JT is upset. Oh yeah earlier he was in a bar with his alcoholic friend and he sees a guy who has a CENTURY of time on his arm, and everyone’s freaking out, and girls are trying to make the guy take them home, and the guy’s buying drinks for everyone, and JT goes up to him and is like “you gotta get outta here, you’ll get killed for having time like that,” and the guy’s like “yeah I know,” and just then scary British people come in waving guns around and everyone’s like “MINUTE MEN! SCRAAAM!” and everyone runs out but JT stays and protects the guy because somehow he has next-level black-belt-type fighting skills even though he’s just some poor schlub who works in a factory. And he hides with the guy and the guy tells him the secret of the clocks and how a few people are super rich and have eons of time and are immortal and they can only be that way by keeping everybody else basically constantly hustling/dying. But really there’s enough for everyone and it’s all fucked up. JUST LIKE REAL LIFE AGAIN!!! And when JT wakes up in the morning the guy is gone and all his time is on JT’s arm!!!!!!!! But then JT looks out the window and the guy is sitting on a bridge and JT runs to catch him but the guy’s clock runs out just then and he dies and falls into the water and JT gets caught on camera being all “NOOO” again (not as dramatically) and it looks like he killed him so that’s how come Cillian Murphy–a “Time Keeper”–is on his ass for the whole film.
Phew! No, I don’t know what a Time Keeper does. I guess he’s like a cop but ONLY interested in money, I mean time, and in making sure nobody poor ever gets any. Everything in this movie is EXTREMELY EXPLICITLY STATED in the dialogue EXCEPT the precise job/social role of the Time Keepers, unless I missed it during the segments that were so boring that during them, like Homer Simpson, I just made up my own movie. (In my version of the movie it is just me and Cillian Murphy frenching in a hotel room in the Riviera and we have all the time in the world. Because we are high-society jewel thieves)
Then there’s a bunch of car crashes…and JT goes into the fancypants town where you have to pay a year of your life just to cross the border, and he gets into a fancy casino and meets Pete Campbell from Mad Men at the poker table and bets all his time on one great hand and gets like 1,000 years and impresses everyone, but especially Amanda Seyfried who is like “Hmm this looks like a great way to get back at my dad, Pete Campbell, but then later I will probably legitimately come to love this amazing brave visionary Marxist revolutionary ninja black belt who also luckily looks like Justin Timberlake and probably frenches great, lets be HONEST ladies.” Also Pete Campbell waxes rhapsodic about their society and the whole clock/time thing and he’s heard it wasn’t always this way, and how weird is it that his mother-in-law, wife, and daughter all look the same age. “Pete Campbell Expository Dialogue Insert.”
So they swim naked in the ocean (Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, not Timberlake and Pete Campbell–I WISH). Then Cillian Murphy takes him away (Timberlake) but he (Timberlake) kills a bunch of people and takes Amanda Seyfried hostage and they drive. (“It’s just like ‘Drive!'” Mike whispered) Then they crash the car and lose all their time when the scary English man takes it. Then Amanda Seyfried knows for the first time what it is to be poor and scrabbling desperately for an extra five minutes, and guess what? IT SUCKS! And a Marxist is born! Then I forget what happens (I was back in the Riviera with Cillian). But eventually they start robbing her dad’s Time Banks and distributing all the time to the poor people, like Robin Hood but with time and stilettos, thus “destroying the system” and making immortality impossible somehow. And JT is like “NO ONE SHOULD BE IMMORTAL IF EVEN ONE PERSON HAS TO DIE,” which, good point. Amanda Seyfried wears a variety of legitimately unreal outfits with the aforementioned 5-inch heels. The film also shows us that some poor people are stupid and wouldn’t do a good job with their money, as illustrated by the alcoholic friend who takes the 10 years Timberdude gave him and drinks himself to death in what I believe was less than 24 hours.
I forgot to even tell you the part where Justin Timberlake keeps telling people he’s “not a fighter” (coulda fooled me, honey, what with all the insanely skilled ninja moves and shooting 4 people in the face simultaneously), and there’s some thinly-veiled allusions to a dead father who was a fighter, but then in what’s supposed to be a gentle and moving scene JT explains to Seyfried how his father used to win his fights, and it’s literally the stupidest thing I have ever heard. And then of course in the next scene JT wins a pretty important fight using this brilliant tactic and all are amazed until their faces get blown off.
We made a pretty good joke in the minivan on the way home about how Ayn Rand would have been confused about why everyone was being so mean to the film’s wonderful hero, Pete Campbell from Mad Men.
The sound design was horrible, the music was horrible. The matte black 1973 Dodge Chargers were awesome, but, WHY??? The concept was great, but it was like every single scene was made by a person intentionally trying to make it the least awesome version of that scene possible. It’s like Max Fischer wrote the script and then discarded it for being the boringest most hackneyed words ever written and then someone retrieved that dialogue from Max Fischer’s garbage can and just used it anyway. It’s like somebody wrote the script in one sitting, and that “sitting” was them writing with a pencil while screeching through rush hour traffic, late for their appointment to present the final script to some producer.
The saddest thing is that this is the guy who made GATTACA. Excuse me, but that movie was WONDERFUL.
So then we did some mild research and discovered the always-a-bad-sign fact that this film has like one million writers attached to it. If I had to take a guess, I’d guess that the Gattaca guy wrote a rad little moody allegorical sci-fi high-fashion movie and then whatever dipshit producers were attached to it just kept tweaking it and fucking with it and insisting on bringing in new writers to “fix it up,” and make shit more “clear” and put more high-speed makeout scenes in the movie and cut all the boring vague mystical sci-fi shit, and they freaked out after test audiences were unclear about the beginning of the film, so they added that horrible opening voiceover, etc. And the Gattaca guy is probably super bummed, except I bet that movie’s making a lot of money, so I guess whatever.
Also, god love that man, but Justin Timberlake is not really a leading-man style “actor,” right? I mean, am I taking crazy pills here?
We all hated it so much, except, somewhat surprisingly, Matt, who compared it favorably to the preview we’d seen for “New Year’s Eve.” Of course, I’d have to agree with him there. Would I rather have been watching the new Liam-Neeson-Fighting-A-Wolf movie? Maybe. What about “IMMORTALS?” Um….FUCK YEAH.
Which reminds me that one of the working titles of “In Time” was “I’M.MORTAL,” do you get it? Another working title was apparently “Now.” Um.