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Seyfried is playing for 'Time'

Published November 03. 2011 05:01PM

"In Time" is a reasonably good science fiction thriller -- to a point.

That point is reached about three-quarters of the way through the movie when the screenwriter seems to have run out of ideas and plot devices.

In "In Time," Justin Timberlake plays Will, given the gift of time by a wealthy man. Will decides to exact revenge on a government system whereby consumer products are purchased literally "on time." One pays with minutes, hours, days, months and years taken off one's life on earth.

The reason for this apparently is because advances in science have extended life expectancy to immortality. And, as it's stated in the national philosophy: for some to be immortal, others must die.

Allen High School graduate Amanda Seyfried plays Sylvia, daughter of the uber-rich owner of Timebank, which controls the devices that measure and dole out one's life expectancy.

Cillian Murphy plays Raymond, a Time Keeper, whose job it is to enforce the time allocations and make sure no one is trading time improperly or getting more time than he or she should.

The nation is divided into Time Zones. Those who live in the ghetto toil away to obtain minutes, hours and so on. The super rich inherit time, or accumulate it, some as much as 100 years or more.

Time can be transferred from hand to hand, from one person to another. It's all recorded in green LED readouts visible underneath the skin on one's forearm.

"In Time" is based on an intriguing, admittedly simple, premise: Time is money. The philosophy allows for all kinds of script references, many of which are quite clever and some of which are, by turns, humorous or macabre.

For example, the cost of a cop of coffee has just gone up from 3 minutes to 4 minutes. And there are lines like: "Don't waste my time." And there's the threat to "clean your clock."

"In Time" has elements, or the "feel" and tone of several movies, among them: "Brazil," "Blade Runner," "Fight Club" and, perhaps most notably, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," the latter in the casting of Timberlake and Seyfried, who are not unlike Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," not only for the way their roles are written but in their sexually-charged rapport -- and the slick way they are posed on the movie's poster.

Because the age limit is 25, "In Time" has a young cast who look even younger -- kind of like they just stepped off the stage of the TV show, "Glee."

The movie has an effective bleached out, blue palette with fine cinematography by the great Roger Deakins.

I was especially intrigued with the art direction, which utilizes high-tech building exteriors and interiors and vehicles in gray or black matte finish, including several mid-1960s Lincoln Continentals, Dodge Challengers or Chargers and a circa 1963 Jaguar XKE.

Andrew Niccol (director, "Lord of War," "Gattaca"; writer "The Terminal," "The Truman Show") directs from his own script.

One of the movie's drawbacks is a lack of philosophical underpinning for the script's premise. "Darwinian capitalism" as a throwaway line is insufficient. Signs that state "Time Share" are similarly shallow.

Another questionable aspect is the clipped, almost bland, dispassionate line readings by Timberlake and Seyfried. If the director intended this, it lessens the dramatic impact.

That said, "In Time" is not the worst way you could spend nearly two hours of your life.

"In Time," MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language; Genre: Crime, Science Fiction, Thriller; Run time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "In Time" is supposed to take place in Dayton, presumably in Ohio, but it was filmed on location in Los Angeles.

Box Office, Oct. 28: "Puss in Boots," the "Shrek" prequel, left its paw marks, opening at No. 1, with a frisky $34 million, dropping "Paranormal Activity 3" to No. 2, $18.5 million, $81.3 million, two weeks; and keeping "In Time" opening at No. 3, with $12 million.

4. "Footloose," $5.4 million, $38.4 million, three weeks; 5. "The Rum Diary," $5 million, opening; 6. "Real Steel," $4.7 million, $73.9 million, three weeks; 7. "The Three Musketeers," $3.5 million, $14.8 million, two weeks; 8. "The Ideas of March," $2.7 million, $33.5 million, four weeks; 9. "Moneyball," $2.4 million, $67.4 million, six weeks; 10. "Courageous," $1.8 million, $27.6 million, five weeks

Unreel, Nov. 4:

"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," R: Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree goes up in flames. Let the laughs begin. Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris star in the comedy.

"Tower Heist," PG-13: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy star as two working guys who seek revenge on a businessman after they're duped by a Ponzi scam in the action comedy.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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