STARRING: Justin Timberlake, Amanda
Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Alex Pettyfer
2011, 109 Minutes, Directed by:
heard the expression that “time is money.” In Andrew Niccol’s In Time,
the writer of The Truman Show and writer/director of
Gattaca and S1m0ne makes
that literal . . .
Like his earlier movies, it
asks viewers to buy into the premise of the film’s world and be willing to
explore. Those who make the deal will find a cool, cerebral and very disturbing
This is a near future world
where everyone ages until they are 25 and then they stay that young forever. The
catch is that at that point their bodies activate an internal clock – with a
readout on their arms – giving them one more year. To get anything in this world
costs time, and only by obtaining more time can you stay alive. Barring accident
or murder, it is theoretically possible to live forever, unless you time out.
When you clock runs down to all zeroes, you die.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake)
is a blue collar worker who rarely has more than a day’s worth of time. Then a
mysterious stranger who is over 100 and is tired of living gives Will a
century’s worth of time. Will, who has seen his own mother time out, decides
he’s going to share this gift in order to challenge the system.
He heads to New Greenwich,
where the wealthy people with centuries of time on their hands live, and meets
Phillipe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser). It is a party at the Weis estate that the
Timekeepers show up, those who enforce the rules of this society, and who decide
that Will must have stolen the time he has.
"Viewers who buy into the premise of the film's world will find a
cool, cerebral and very disturbing film . . ."
This sets in motion a chase
with Will escaping custody, taking Weis’s daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) as a
hostage, and Timekeeper Leon (Cillian Murphy) hot on his trail. As Sylvia comes
to understand how most people live, hour to hour, day to day, she comes to
realize the inherent corruption of the system that supports her family and the
Will and Sylvia start stealing
time to distribute to the masses, disrupting the basis of the whole economy.
Drawing on movies like Gun Crazy, Thieves Like Us and, of course,
Bonnie and Clyde, Niccol gives us a combination crime spree/love story.
Those who get caught up in the
details of the plot will miss the real point of the movie. It’s the metaphor of
time for money that matters, as it plays out in a battle between the haves and
have nots – or, if you’d like, the 1% vs. the 99% - making this an incredibly
timely film. Gattaca was a bit ahead of its time with its concerns with genetics
determining our fates.
In Time is the perfect
movie for the moment. People whose eyes glaze over at terms like housing bubble
and hedge fund will instantly understand the sort of manipulation protecting the
haves that goes on here. Poor people are getting more time? Fine, let’s raise
the cost of everything so that inflation erases the value of any of their gains!
Justin Timberlake, coming off
solid performances in The Social Network and Friends with Benefits
is proving to be an interesting actor. He gives us a character who had tried
playing by the rules but now can’t take it anymore. Amanda Seyfried is still hit
or miss as an actress, but finds the right notes for the spoiled rich girl who
comes to see what the real world is like.
Love it or hate it, In Time
raises the sorts of questions that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are asking.
Just whose time is it anyway?