Director(s): Andrew Niccol
Writer(s): Andrew Niccol
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Oct 28, 2011 - Wide
We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money” and in the world of In Time, it’s not just a saying but a fact of life.
In this future setting, people age normally until the age of 25, upon which time a green countdown timer in their arm informs them that they have one year of life left. They never age, but they must do what they can to earn minutes and spend them carefully. If your employer thinks you weren’t productive, he’ll give you less hours and minutes to live than you expected. When you buy a pack of smokes, the chemicals will probably take less time off your life than the cost of the package. Dinner won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but if you don’t budget well, it will cost you your life.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) works hard and cares deeply for his mother (Olivia Wilde). They both look twenty-five, but he’s 28 and she’s 50. A miscalculation of travel expenses causes her to die due to a lack of time. Will, meanwhile, saves a wealthy man who has tired of his timeless existence and gives his many years of banked time to the young man after telling him his philosophy of life His life changed, Will travels to a geographic zone where the wealthy live and ends up earning even more years in a high stakes game of poker. In this world, you’re betting with your life.
Will’s actions gain the attention of a Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy) who already suspects him of murdering his benefactor and Will ends up kidnapping Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), the bored daughter of a wealthy man, in order to escape safely. The pair begin to bond and embark on a Robin Hood-like journey of stealing time from the rich and giving it to enrich the lifetimes of the poor. The pair continue to be tracked by the Timekeepers (a sort of police agency that enforces the rules of time) and a group of thugs who’d prefer to have the time for themselves and not freely shared with the struggling.
Obviously the film puts the rat race struggle the middle class goes through into a stark setting. It touches upon the concept that with prices and tax increases keeping pace with, or outpacing, wage increases, governments and big business are complicit in keeping the common man down. It looks at how the simple distractions and struggles of life keep most people too busy or too tired to really care or get involved with the decisions that affect their society. This is some pretty good stuff to dig into, but In Time glosses over it and gives us a whole series of car chases and an awful lot of running instead.
With all that running, it’s good that Seyfried and Timberlake are a healthy-looking pair. Justin looks good in his tailored suits and Amanda looks great in her dresses and fancy lingerie. But this pair of performers actually have started showing some chops and they’re not given an awful lot of red meat here. Though this movie comes off more like an episode in a so-so sci-fi anthology show, it’s still enjoyable.