Watching Justin Timberlake make us laugh in "Bad Teacher" and acting admirably in "The Social Network" and "Friends With Benefits" makes it easy to think the singer might do well as an action star.
But "In Time" isn't the vehicle to turn Timberlake into James Bond.
Sure, the likable Timberlake dashes across rooftops and darts about in a fancy car, but it takes more than a lot of motion to make an action character worth caring about. See this summer's "The Green Hornet" or "Green Lantern" for examples.
After a nifty setup, "In Time" mostly fails to deliver as it gets lamer by the minute.
It's the near future, and your money is no good. Money is replaced by time, which is deducted from one's lifeline. A cup of coffee will cost you four minutes, a luxury hotel suite is two months, and a date with a hooker will take away 10 minutes from your life.
Making time even more precious is the fact everyone lives only until they're 25, and they're constantly reminded of this by an illuminated countdown ticker on their forearms. However, people can buy, steal and kill for time to live past those 25 years, and people remain how they looked at 25 no matter how many decades they live past that. That's why Olivia Wilde can play Timberlake's mother, looking like Olivia Wilde.
Keeping up? This is just the initial setup. Director Andrew Niccol's movie demands a lot of explanation -- too much.
Timberlake's Will Salas meets Henry (Matt Bomer) at a bar. Henry is tired of living and kills himself, but not before transferring his significant remaining time to Will.
Will becomes accused of killing Henry and of stealing time, an equally serious offense. A rogue police unit called the Timekeepers, led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), pursues him, as does a mob called the Minutemen.
Will finds love interest Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), and the two begin stealing time from financial institutions and giving it to the poor folks who have little time left, all while dodging the bad guys.
It's all a little ho-hum, never exceeding a second beyond near-serviceable.
"I didn't start the clock. I can't turn it back," a character says. Moviegoers may feel the same way about time lost with "In Time."
Two stars (out of four) -- Rating PG-13 -- Run time 1:49 -- Content Violence, some sexuality, partial nudity and strong language