Originally, Justin Timberlake’s new sci-fi action flick was called “Now.” Apparently, though, that title didn’t effectively communicate what the movie was all about, which isn’t exactly surprising because what the movie, now called “In Time,” is all about is kinda high-concept and confusing.
Go with us (and JT) for a second. In this cinematic future, overpopulation was a biiiiiiig problem, so scientists figured out how to slice and dice the human genome to the point where aging stops when you’re 25. Seeing as how people like living and don’t want to die young, time has become the new currency, something earned during work and spent like cash. How exactly time can be earned, stolen and kept track of on a fancy neon clock on your arm (as well as why everyone in the future is so damn good looking) is never really explained.
And why should it be? Confounding high-concept plots are a Hollywood staple. In this sense, “In Time” joins the sometimes glorious, sometimes grating pantheon of movies with extremely confusing premises.
“The Jacket”: An amnesic Gulf War veteran takes an experimental drug, locks himself in a morgue chamber and is able to travel 15 years into the future, where he learns he might already be dead in one timeline but not another. Or something. Somebody revoke Adrien Brody’s Oscar.
“Primer”: An excellent low-budget time-travel flick so sciencey you need a PhD or two tabs of acid to understand it.
“Lost in Space”: As if the sight of Joey from “Friends” as an action hero isn’t perplexing enough, this adaptation introduces a third-act time-travel plotline that makes less sense than Herman Cain’s tax plan. Why, Gary Oldman, why?
“Inception”: The only thing more impressive than this dream-within-a-dream-within-a-bunch-of-other-dreams movie is how the hell Christopher Nolan pulled it all off.
“Donnie Darko: Is it too harsh to say that anyone who thinks this is a brilliantly conceived work where suburban alienation and sci-fi mindf–k dovetail to create a generation-defining film is an idiot? Oh well. The movie makes no sense. And the rabbit thing is silly.
“Detention”: Just watch the trailer and then try and explain what the eff that movie is about.
“The Thirteenth Floor: This is a prime example of a bad-good sci-fi film. Don’t ask why no one in this virtual-reality storyline never traveled outside of town to discover — oh shiz! — they live in virtual reality too.
“Johnny Mnemonic”: Who would allow any sensitive information to be uploaded for safe-keeping into Keanu Reeve’s brain? Maybe if David Fincher or David Wain remade this movie, it could be darkly creepy or darkly ridiculous, but there’s a reason Robert Longo has only been allowed to make one movie since it.
“The Fountain”: It’d take far more caffeine than is available at our local Starbucks just to summon up enough energy to summarize what the heck goes down in this time-hopping movie about…well, honestly, we can’t. Deal with it.
Every David Lynch movie ever: I mean, amiright?!