Last week—through no particular planning on my part—I ended up seeing movies two nights in a row! The excitement there is more from having an opportunity to get out of the house two days in a row more than excitement at the movies specifically; I’ve become something of a hermit, of late. Anyway, here are my thoughts, in brief, on In Time and Tower Heist.
In Time is from writer/director Andrew Niccol, who—to me, at least—is best known for Gattaca. Gattaca was a slightly odd but well-done, thoughtful movie. Unfortunately, In Time doesn’t hold together quite so well, despite being generally entertaining.
The basic premise is that the key to eternal youth has been unlocked, and so everyone stops aging at age 25. However, to prevent overcrowding, everyone then has only a year of life left—unless they earn more. The rich can live for hundreds—or thousands—of years, while the poor live from day to day, struggling to earn enough time at work to keep going until the next day. Time is the new currency, and everyone is kept strictly isolated in different zones, according to how much time they have.
So, this is an interesting idea, and it certainly allows Niccol to work with a cast of young and beautiful people. We’re given some heavy-handed tragedy early on, and then Will Salas (played not particularly well by Justin Timberlake, who couldn’t manage the full range of emotion the character demanded) lucks in to a hundred years, and that’s where all his problems start. And while those problems are interesting, they just don’t hold the story together in a sensible way.
Specifically, there are a number or aspects of the worldbuilding that are necessary to tell the story, but that make NO SENSE AT ALL for a reasonable person. For example, you can steal a person’s time while they are asleep/unconscious. WHY WOULD ANYONE BUILD A SYSTEM THAT ALLOWED NON-CONSENSUAL TRANSFER OF TIME? The answer, of course, it because it is needed for the plot, but that is exactly why this movie just doesn’t hold together well.
I realize this all sounds pretty negative, and I don’t mean to be. It wasn’t a bad movie, just a flawed one. It was still quite enjoyable, and while not as clever and thought-provoking as Gattaca, it is still more clever than a lot of movies that pass for science fiction these days. I certainly don’t regret the time or money spent seeing it.
Tower Heist was not really on my list to see, but some friends were going, so I figured, “Why not?” Luckily, it turned out to be an enjoyable comedy. The trailers play up the presence of Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, but Tower Heist is not a “Ben Stiller movie” or an “Eddie Murphy movie”, and was actually more dependent on the ensemble cast and the clever writing for its humour.
So this movie was much better than expected. The setup for the eponymous tower heist was original (compared to other heist films), and the execution has some genuinely tense and brilliant moments. This was definitely a comedy with some heist movie more than a heist movie with some comedy, but that’s okay. It was a lot of fun.