AT some point in the future, people have been genetically engineered to stop ageing when they reach 25.
Then, one year later, they die ... unless they can get their hands on more time.
Because time is the new currency. If you're rich enougt you could live forever.
Commodities are paid for in minutes and hours, using an electronic clock device which everyone has implanted in their arms. Time can be transferred between people, but when your time runs out, you're liable to drop dead in the street.
Cities are divided into time zones based on wealth, and Will (Justin Timberlake) lives in the poorest zone, where people live day to day, often with under 24 hours left on their clock.
Will helps a guy about to be mugged for his time, but the guy has had enough of living and gives Will his century.
He ends up on the run –from whom exactly is never quite made clear – while Cillian Murphy's cop, or timekeeper, also longs to get his hands on him.
Will goes to hide out in the richest zone, where he makes a hostage of the wealthy Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried).
It's an intriguing but somewhat goofy premise, with no attempt made to explain or rationalise the situation – it is what it is and we just have to get on with it.
Everyone looks like they're in their 20s, even if they're 100, which is cute, there are some clever time-related lines and the semi-futuristic, yet recognisable, design is pleasing.
And it also asks pertinent questions about the nature of mortality and whether it is right for people to live forever.
But, unfortunately, its satirical ambitions become its weak point, with the evils of capitalism high on the agenda.
Banks are now time-lenders, and crusading types, including Will, want time to be shared equally among everyone, rather than it being controlled by the super-rich.
As a result it skimps on the action, entirely lacking a major set-piece. And though the time element sometimes adds a bit of urgency, it is only in situations where someone's clock is counting down and they have to sprint for a refill.
If you want to have a smart sci-fi full of ideas and allegorical inferences then by all means do, just don't cast Justin Timberlake and sell it as an action thriller, because down that road disappointment lies.
Accordingly, In Time eventually boils down to nothing more than blunt satire and an awful lot of running, with repetition and boredom setting in long before the end.
When something is this daft, you have a right to expect it to be a lot more fun.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Running time: 109 mins
TOWER HEIST (12A) Entirely lacking in sparkle
BEN STILLER is the manager of a New York apartment building for the super-rich, keeping the place ticking.
When one of the residents (Alan Alda) is arrested in a billion dollar fraud scandal, all the staff find their pensions are gone, so Stiller and a bunch of disgruntled employees hatch a scheme to relieve Alda of the $20m in cash they believe he has hidden in his home.
With no skills between them, and Stiller forced to enlist the help of his jailbird neighbour (Eddie Murphy), it should play like a low-rent Ocean's Eleven, with all the opportunity for breezy caper antics that should afford, and which ought to be the basis for a few undemanding laughs.
Instead it's flabby, with plot holes that aren't so much gaping as offensive, and entirely lacking in sparkle or surprises.
Director: Brett Ratner
Running time: 104 mins
STRAW DOGS (18) A sold remake of the 1971 thriller
A HUSBAND and wife (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth) – he a mild-mannered writer, and she an actress –move to her former hometown in rural Mississippi.
They hire some locals to work on their remote farmhouse, who spend most of their time ogling Bosworth, which turns to much worse before the fightback starts.
A very faithful remake of the Dustin Hoffman movie from 1971 that stands as Sam Peckinpah's most notorious and least distinguished film, this is less prurient and less problematic than the original in its portrayal of the ambiguity of the sexual violence.
A solid set-up, with its parade of drunken hillbillies, means it simmers steadily and retains a certain clammy power, though it is overlong and some of the 180 degree turns are a bit hard to buy.
Director: Rod Lurie
Running time: 109 mins
JACK GOES BOATING (15) Struggles to escape its theatrical origins
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN makes his directorial debut with this dour drama, while also starring as Jack, a shabby limo driver who is set up by his friends on a date with the equally lovelorn Connie (Amy Ryan).
How their awkward relationship plays out is handled with tenderness and compassion, but we're also made to endure several scenes involving their friends' domestic disputes, and this is less welcome.
It's written by Robert Glaudini and based on his own play, and as a result struggles to escape its theatrical origins, often coming across as meandering and slight. There's no faulting the acting, but even though the characters are well drawn and not unsympathetic, they're a difficult bunch to want to spend an entire movie with.
Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Running time: 91 mins
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (12a) An unendurable waking coma of tediousness
IN present day Shanghai, when Nina learns her friend Sophia has been in an accident, she visits her in hospital and finds a story written by Sophia set in the 1830s, where two little girls enter into a bond of sisterhood that parallels their own.
Slow and ponderous, this punishing drama focuses on custom and ceremony in its 19th century strand, and minimal incident elsewhere, exacerbated by playing out in not one time frame but three.
It's alarmingly inert, with the most clunky exposition-heavy dialogue imaginable, made worse by being delivered largely in English by actors for whom it's clearly not a first language,.
Eventually it becomes an unendurable waking coma of tediousness.
Director: Wayne Wang
Running time: 104 mins
WEEKEND (18) The year's most believeable romance
TWENTYSOMETHING Russell (Tom Cullen) meets Glen (Chris New) in a club and they spend the night, then the whole weekend together.
What follows is mostly just them talking about their lives and feelings, but what could be mundane is in fact fresh, funny and filmed in a realistic style without being all handheld and disorderly.
At its core is the basis for most love stories, where two people meet but a major obstacle, in this case the fact that Glen is moving to America, may prevent them from being together.
The characters here happen to be gay, but Weekend is readily accessible to any audience and ends up being touching, real and the year's most engaging and believable romance.
Director: Andrew Haigh
Running time: 96 mins