In Time explores a fascinating concept, but an unsatisfying ending and some weak acting by Justin Timberlake spoil an interesting film.

The film In Time has a simple premise. Everyone has a counter on their arm that tells them exactly how long they have to live. It is accurate to the second and when it goes to zero the person dies immediately. In this world of the future they discover the secret of immortality. Everyone gets to stay 25 and live forever.

The catch is that it costs to extend your time. The rich can afford to keep living, while the poor live one day at a time. All this would be fascinating, but then it adds another wrinkle: Time is literally money. People spend time from their clock and earn time when they work. For example, it costs five minutes for a cup of coffee, but they earn two hours working in a sweatshop all day. This leads to some gut-wrenching decisions like deciding whether to eat or take the bus.

Andrew Niccol, a former commercial TV director, wrote and directed this fascinating analogy of poverty and desperation. I prefer his film Gattaca to this film. Both had a sociological theme behind it, but this one came off a little heavy-handed.

Timberlake plays Will Salas, a man living in a slum. He lives with his mother, Rachel Salas, played by Olivia Wilde. At first Olivia Wilde's performance as his mother is kind of jarring. Seeing a woman younger that Justin holding and kissing him is weird. Like a modern retelling of Oedipus. After a few moments though, her phenomenal acting shines through and her motherly attitude quickly won me over.

Since Will works at a factory where he makes the very machines that dispense time, I figured the story would be about him stealing one of the time dispensers. Instead, he goes to a bar where a guy Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), is spending time like water on drinks. The glowing green counter on his arm shows a century. In a place where people live minute to minute, this is an unheard of amount of time.

He saves the man from a bunch of male models who steal time and the man gives him a gift. Turns out he's over a hundred and tired of living forever so he gives Will all his time committing suicide.

The story follows Timberlake on the run from "Time Keeper" police man Cillian Murphy for the perceived murder of Hamilton and his attempts to join high society on his borrowed time.

The film makes an amazing, although preachy, statement on class society in our world. A world where the divide between the rich and poor grows every day. Unfortunately, while the film itself is good, Justin's acting is wooden and we slowly get bored when people aren't running and jumping. This happens a lot. Not enough to save the film.

I give it three stars.

Would you watch the film? If you saw the film what did you think? If you could buy time how much would you buy and what would you do with it?
[Image Source: Wikipedia]

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Michael Offutt said...

I was going to go and see this film until it got panned on the reviews. My book has a similar premise but one that I think is more well thought out. I wrote it in 2008 and it's supposed to be published finally in May 2012. I thought it was interesting that "In Time" had such a similar theme to a minor one in my book (it's not what my book is about but it has that going on in the background).

Maurice Mitchell said...

Its not the worst film I've ever seen. It just didn't deliver. Catch it on video.
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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I just didn't buy the whole concept that we run out of time we die. Didn't we already have something similar in Logan's Run?

Maurice Mitchell said...

Alex, I thought the same thing. It's pretty much the same concept. Something that wasn't clearly explained is that the clocks were set up to prevent overpopulation. Kind of important, but never stated.


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