Sometimes, poker can really add a lot to a Hollywood movie. Other times, such as in the subject of this week’s Poker on Screen for example, it can highlight the weakness of the overall film and merely emphasise the problems the celluloid disaster has succumbed to.
In Time was made in 2011, which ironically enough was the year that online poker was sent back in time due to the events of Black Friday. Starring in the movie is Justin Timberlake, who would eventually make an entire movie around poker with the equally inept Runner Runner. Sadly for Timberlake, his poker scene during In Time doesn’t add to his resumes highlights reel.
The scene is a five-handed game between five guys all around the age of 25, the nominal age which humans have been frozen in time at thanks to genetic advances that have been made in this movie’s particular universe. People can only die if killed, that is unless their ‘time’ runs out. Each human is given only one year to live from the age of 25, but true to life if a little far-fetched, the rich hoard all the time just as they hoard money in reality.
Before you know it, Justin Timberlake’s character is tasked with saving humanity while his own time-clock starts to run down in the form of a ticking time bomb of superimposed light on his forearm.
Which is exactly where we find Timberlake as the poker scene begins, with him betting his last years away in a poker game with the privileged few who are gambling with a few spare millennia they have knocking around.
With the first four cards on the board reading 7-Q-5-J, we join the action as Timberlake calls away his final 50 years yet somehow manages to gamble up to the point where he stands to either win 1,100 years or lose his life.
As his final seconds tick by, the river is revealed to be a six.
Timberlake’s opponent turns over pocket queens for a set of queens on the flop. Timberlake himself casually reveals 8-4 off-suit, effectively telling us that he was prepared to gamble his entire life on a gutshot. Well, maybe he wanted to forget those years in the Mickey Mouse Club. Timberlake scoops, of course, and having 1,100 years to play with, helps save humanity. They’ll have been delighted, not least because it means that they’ll be able to take Timberlake’s time at the felt at their leisure if he continues to chase gutshots.
In a bizarre movie that is at times so clunky you can almost hear the gears grinding, Justin Timberlake’s lesser-known poker-playing character doesn’t need ‘runner runner’, only a rivered gutshot, but his inept reliance on luck goes ingloriously unpunished. There simply isn’t enough time in the world to waste two hours of it on this movie, where a great premise falls off the cliff-face when it comes to plot and delivery.
You can watch Timberlake’s poker scene in In Time in full right here: