"In Time" was written and directed by Andrew Niccol, whose 1997 cult-hit "Gattaca" continues to look sharper with every passing year.
But no one is going to reminisce fondly about "In Time"; the film is so witless and forgettable that 14 years from now, no one will even recognize its name.
"In Time" 's admittedly intriguing conceit is that in the near future, money has been replaced by time.
In this film image released by 20th Century Fox, Justin Timberlake, left, and Amanda Seyfried are shown in a scene from “In Time.”
Everyone is genetically engineered to age till 25, at which point they must earn, borrow, steal or inherit additional time, which is monitored by a digital clock built into the wrist.
Justin Timberlake plays a worker from the aptly named ghetto of Dayton, where folks live literally from day to day; he infiltrates ritzy New Greenwich (whose inhabitants live for centuries) and grapples with the system's blatant inequity.
"Gattaca" was a brilliant examination of genetic engineering - but it also featured solid science and an excellent plot involving murder, sibling rivalry and borrowed identity.
"In Time," by contrast, has virtually no plot and is driven by a message that's almost as shapeless as it is heavy-handed.
While it does feature one decent car chase and some moderate excitement elsewhere - mostly focused on watching someone's wrist-clock drop toward zero - "In Time" is interested mostly in protesting the injustice of the time-bank system.
But Niccol never clarifies the mechanics of this system. Just exactly why is it important to regulate the ownership of time? Wouldn't the frank knowledge of one's remaining lifespan have a devastating effect on the human psyche?
And if those in New Greenwich really have stolen time from poor workers, how and when did this happen?
Perhaps Niccol - like certain contemporary protesters - simply assumes that anyone with "more" must surely have come by it dishonestly.
In any case, because we never see how the rich stole from the poor, the story lacks coherence and intensity; it's hard to sympathize when Timberlake and his love-interest (Amanda Seyfried) become futuristic Robin Hoods and start handing out free time left and right.
Not to mention the question of how they managed to steal the time so easily - or get themselves into an armored car, for that matter.
Americans are certainly obsessed with time, and one wishes Niccol had done more with this idea than to simply accuse the rich of having too much.
Timberlake is solid, and Cillian Murphy is as watchable as ever in the role of a "time-keeper" trying to track the hoods.
As in "Gattaca," the retro-future production design is strong, highlighted by the time-keepers' ultra-cool cop cars.
But on the whole, this film is such a colossal bore that at its climactic moment, I found my mind wandering to some paperwork awaiting me later in the week.
I wish I'd stayed home to work on that instead.