The sci-fi thriller In Time has a compelling premise but has a tough time figuring what kind of movie it wants to be.

The film is set sometime in the future — maybe not our future, but a parallel universe of some kind, in which the aging gene has been turned off. People live until they are 25, and once they reach that age, a time clock in their arm turns on, giving them another year of life. Now, since time is currency in this scenario, the passage of time is easily transferred. But the poor people are living day by day because the cost of living, quite literally, is almost too high. The rich, on the other hand, have all the time in the world – and zero incentive to do anything important with their lives. Sound familiar to real life?

The story focuses on Will (Justin Timberlake), a poor bloke who works hard keep his life going. By chance, he has an encounter with a man who ends up committing suicide by transferring all of his time, over 100 years, to Will. It would seem to solve all of Will’s problems, but instead it causes all new ones. Now that he suddenly has time on his hands, he’s a target. So in a series of circumstances, he finds himself on the run with a rich man’s daughter (Amanda Seyfried) – and the two of them become a sort of Bonnie and Clyde Robin Hoods in an “Occupy Wall Street” situation that will not be lost on the audience.

Which movie are you more interested in? The more Logan’s Run, Gattaca one about the obsession with youth? Or the one where the poor rise up to get back at the big bad wealthy? Or how about the action thriller where the anti-hero has to prove himself so he and his love interest can ride off into the sunset? Yeah, In Time pretty much covers it all when it should probably just concentrate on one idea.

It doesn’t help that Timberlake lacks the skill to carry this film. He is definitely still green and needs a really strong director to make him look good, say like David Fincher (as well as writer Aaron Sorkin), who made Timberlake shine in The Social Network. In Time director Andrew Niccol doesn’t seem to have the same cache, and Timberlake flounders a bit. Seyfried also isn’t given much besides looking chic in her high heels and dark wig, running her ass off alongside Timberlake the whole movie. Cillian Murphy is probably the best part of the film as a Time Keeper (a cop, basically) who is hot on Will’s trail.

I think Niccol, who also wrote In Time (and “Gattaca,” by the way), has a great imagination and it’s pretty clear how he feels about the idea we all just want to live forever young. But with In Time, he tries too hard to make it an entertaining action flick as well as a film with a social conscious — and unfortunately misses the mark on both.