In Time (2011)

Greg Says: It had a lot of unrealized potential.

Title: In Time (2011)
Date: 29 October 2011
Recommendation: Don’t waste your “Time”
Helpful: 4 out of 10 found this helpful.


Spoilers INSIDE

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake “Bad Teacher”) lives in the not-to-distant future where people are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 years. At that time a green-glowing clock on their arms starts counting down Time – and when the Time gets to zero, you die. To get more Time you have to work in the factories. There is a wide gap between those who live day-to-day, earning just enough Time to get by, and those who live with thousands, even millions of years.

Will saves a man from getting killed because he is in the wrong part of town (Time zone) with too much “Time on his hands” (the movie is rife with these time-based clich├ęs). The man, however, is really 150 years old and is ready to die. He gives his 105 remaining Tiime to will, and then publicly dies as his Time runs out. But not before revealing to Will that there is, in fact, plenty of Time to go around, if only those in high places would allow it.

The next day, Will’s mother (Olivia Wilde “House”) dies because her time runs out. This fills Will with a great resolve and he heads to the upper echelons of his world to find out how to set things right. He meets Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried “Red Riding Hood”) who is the daughter of Time-millionaire Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser “Mad Men”). Will kidnaps Sylvia and is then chased by Time-Keeper Leon (Cillian Murphy “Tron: Legacy”). And we’re off…

This movie starts out really strong and fritters away its opening, petering out into a confused ending. The concept of everyone aging only to 25 years is interesting. It also makes for a showcase of Hollywood’s youngest and most exciting actors. The fact that people are constantly Timing-out makes for constant excitement as you have a multitude of “ticking clocks” running – so there should be lots of tension. And yet, the move drags awkwardly in several places. This movie seems like someone’s great idea that simply didn’t get thought through to completion.

(In fact, it could be someone else’s idea as Harlen Ellison filed suit to have the movie held from release as it is similar to his short-story, “”Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman” which concerns a dystopian future in which people have a set amount of time to live which can be revoked by a Timekeeper.)

The movie quickly devolves into a sort of “Bonnie and Clyde” story as Will and Amanda rip off Time-banks and give away the Time to the “poor”. It’s unclear exactly what Will’s goal is in this film. He seems to want to have everyone share the wealth, and at the same time wants to destabilize the “system”. But it isn’t clear what the result of this stabilization would be and whether it is any better than the world he lives in.

All of this comes at a time in our history when the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” have never been wider. The movie paints the “haves” as oblivious and evil greedy meanies. They are so evil that they are non-characters. Rather, just cardboard cut-outs that are easy to take shots at. The movie seems to want to say that if the fat cats would just share, then everyone would be better off.

But the movie doesn’t offer this reward. Instead, the result of all this Robin-Hood-like behavior is a rise in the cost of living. So the poor- cum-rich are now the poor again. There are even allusions to a reverse- Atlas-Shrugged as the workers stop working in the factories. Again, the results of this are not shared. If “In Time” was trying to make any sort of social commentary, it failed utterly.

The movie is nice to look at. Lots of pretty faces and taut bodies. Everyone seems to run everywhere in this universe. Will takes his shirt off and puts it on a lot. Amanda has nice bras to show off. The cars are cool yet understated. The green-glowing numbers are a cool effect. And yet, without a strong plot and a coherent set of goals for our heroes, I can only recommend you “Don’t waste your Time”.