On borrowed time

09:17, Nov 04 2011
In Time
TIME BANDITS: Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried star in In Time.

In Time M, 109 mins, three stars

Expat Kiwi Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) has seized the high-concept sci-fi movie baton from M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), and now takes it to its logical extreme by making a metaphor literal.

Time, in this fraught yet stylish near-future, is money. Everyone is genetically engineered to live to 25, determined by a fluorescent green digital clock on your wrist that counts down to your last second on earth. Anything you can beg, steal or borrow beyond that – a sustained wrist grip is enough to make a transfer – is determined by your birthright or cunning. In the ghettos, factory workers need to beat the quota to stay alive. Principled hustler Justin Timberlake is keen to take down the system, and kidnaps rich daddy's girl Amanda Seyfried for the (high-heeled) ride. Cillian Murphy's relentless Timekeeper has a job to do.

It's full of ideas – how time might be stolen, extorted, donated, loaned, inherited – has mild twists, chases, and steampunkish enthusiasm for mid-century cars and architecture, and the leads are watchable and attractive. But the conceit – population control meets economic Darwinism – ultimately overrides the drama and it's hard to care too much for a nice idea.

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