Today my wife and I watched a 2011 movie from writer / director Andrew Niccol (“Good Kill”, “S1m0ne”), a sci-fi action thriller entitled “In Time”.
Set in a dystopian future we find a world where humans are genetically modified so that they don’t age once they reach 25. The catch is that they only have one more year after that, and once their time clock counts down to zero they will time out and die.
The only way to avoid that is to earn more time. Money has ceased to exist. You work to earn time. You pay your bills in time. Everything is bought and paid for in time.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake – “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Friends With Benefits”) is 28 years old and lives day-to-day with rarely more than a day or two left on his clock. He lives with his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde – “The Lazarus Effect”, “Rush”) who has just turned 50. Rachel also lives pretty much day-to-day.
One night Will saves a stranger, Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer – “Magic Mike”, “White Collar”), who is 105 and has 116 years left on his clock, from local time thief Fortis (Alex Pettyfer – “Alex Rider : Stormbreaker”, “Tormented”).
Hamilton explains to Will that the time-rich people of New Greenwich hoard as much time for themselves as possible, in order to achieve immortality, and keep pushing up prices in the poorer districts to ensure that the residents there keep on dying.
Will awakes the following morning to discover that Henry has transferred his 116 years to him and timed himself out. He gives his best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki – “The Big Bang Theory”, “Hancock”) 10 years, as that’s how long they have been friends, and realising that he wouldn’t be safe from the likes of Fortis in his district with so much time, determines to take his mother and go to New Greenwich.
His plan falls apart when Rachel runs out of time on her way to meet him, so Will decides to go to New Greenwich himself to “make them pay”. Having spent his first night in an exclusive hotel suite Will meets 110 year old time-loan mogul Phillipe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser – “Mad Men”, “Elektra Luxx”) and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried – “A Million Ways To Die In The West”, “Gone”).
Will and Phillipe play poker together and Will wins over a thousand years from Phillipe. He is unaware, however, that the timekeepers are tracking him down to retrieve the years that Hamilton had given him.
When the timekeepers, led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy – “Transcendence”, “Aloft”), arrive at a party at Phillipe’s mansion Will takes off with Sylvia as hostage and demands a ransom of 1,000 years. Phillipe refuses to pay, so Will and Sylvia team up and begin to take time from Phillipe’s time banks and distribute the time around the poorer districts whilst trying desperately to stay one step ahead of the timekeepers, Fortis and his gang, and avoid running out of time…
We found this film to be very entertaining. The idea of time taking the place of money opens up numerous lines of thought, and is quite a brutal exercise really. Imagine you are having a game of poker and if you lose you’re not just broke, you’re dead. It casts a whole new light on the rich vs. poor scenario and unequal distribution of wealth.
That said, even on the most basic sit-back-and-let-it-entertain-you level this movie works. The action is well paced, there is some nicely witty humour sprinkled throughout, and the fact that no-one visibly ages beyond 25 means that Hollywood was able to have a fairly uniform young-and-attractive cast to appeal to the movie goer.
It’s not perfect, sometimes things didn’t add up time-wise (ironically enough) and some scenes were a little predictable and cheesy, but this film does provide a pretty decent 109 minutes of entertainment that shouldn’t leave you feeling like you have wasted any of your precious time…