I imagine that when the Occupy Wall Street movement started gaining steam the producers of In Time must have high fived each other, and did so again when the 7th Billion human on the planet was born.
In Time continues the time honored tradition of science fiction using an alternative setting to examine the world we live in. It’s also a fairly standard action movie.
The central premise is quickly established. At some point in the future genetic engineering reaches a point where it is possible to stop the again process. Once a person reaches 25 (the point where people reach physical peek maturity) the aging process stops. To combat overcrowding each person is equipped with a timer that starts counting down one year. When it reaches zero they die. They can get more time added to keep going. Somehow time has replaced money as standard currency. So when you work you are paid in time, so yes time is in fact money.
Our hero Will, Played by Justin Timberlake, is a poor man who rarely has more than a day’s worth of time at any point in his life, comes into possession of over a hundred years thanks to a suicidal rich man. When his mother dies he tries to infiltrate high society to take them for all they are worth. He meets an heiress Sylvia, Played by Amanda Seyfried, who is intrigued by him as he is not as lifeless as most people she meets. When the Timekeepers (think police), lead by Keeper Raymond Leon, played by Cillian Murphy try to arrest Will on suspicion of murder and time theft, Sylvia is at first his hostage to escape and later his partner in crime when her father refuses to pay a ransom.
Much of the movie is taken up with Will and Sylvia as they rob her father’s time banks and distribute them amongst the time poor while Raymond hunts them down.
As an action movie In Time is fairly standard. The concept of the life timers helps add tension to as the characters have to find ways of getting more time to just stay alive.
Justin Timberlake does a fair job as an action lead, giving off the feel much like Matt Damon when he first did action. Cillian Murphy is always reliable in these kinds of movies and his presence as a somewhat noble adversary really brightens up the film. Amanda Seyfried seems a bit out of her depth, but this does work for her character that is also a fish out of water. One note is that no matter what happens in the movie her makeup is always perfect. There are also good supporting performances from Olivia Wilde, Matt Boemer, Johnny Galecki, Vincent Kartheiser and Alex Pettyfer.
Speaking of makeup, one thing I noted was that all the rich people in this movie have an appearance of being somewhat artificial. This helps add to the feel of the class separation in the movie. The rich, who are affectively immortal, are truly ideal since they fear having an accident as that is the only way they can die. The poor are generally active as they have to be on the go at all times to make more time to stay alive.
A phrase used throughout the movie is “for few to be immortal, many must die.” This is meant to convey that it is in the interest of the rich to keep poor people on short time and dyeing regularly in order to support their own extended lives. Working as an allegory of current economic times is where the movie plays the strongest. It is also something of a weakness as the need to keep the action going once it starts means we do not get to explore as much of the world as we would like.
Use of language in this movie is a lot of fun. Phrases like “got a minute” “I’ll clean your clock” “I haven’t got the time to play poker” and “Don’t waste my time” take on a whole new meaning.
There is a subplot involving a criminal gang of regularly steal people’s time. They want to find Will and Sylvia because they want the time they have taken for themselves. There is also a point about prices being artificially inflated to counteract the extra time Will and Sylvia are giving the poor.
And here is where I have questions. The central premise works great in the confines of the movie when you can willingly suspend disbelief, but it does not hold up under any kind of scrutiny.
Is the entire world using the time based economy? What is backing this economy? How did we go from our current currency standard to using time? How did they get people to agree to limit their life spans?
And how long has this been going on? You have one character state that he is over one hundred years old. Technology is not that much more advanced then now, except for the time transfer tech and that fact that all cars are electric. It is never stated how far in the future we are.
So in summery I would say that In Time is an ok action movie with an intriguing and timely premise.