Review: “In Time” is neither “in” nor “timely”…discuss

I remember being in class during graduate school and discussing the concept of time as currency.  I mean, just look at the language we use.  How often do we say, “Time is money!” or tell about how much time was “spent” on a project?   In my office, I’ll often talk about allocating time like I would allocate a budget.  It’s a fascinating perspective on life, isn’t it?

What if it were true?  What if time really was money? Fascinating, I tell you!

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol tries to explore this in the 2011 film In Time.

Everyone is genetically engineered to stop aging at the age of 25.  The kicker is that their clocks turn on – they have only a year remaining to live.  A year, that is, with the time that is given to them.  Remember, time is currency…so it is used to buy food, pay rent, see a movie, etc.  Go to your job…get paid in time.  Want a cup of coffee?  That will be 4 minutes, please.   Time can be given to and taken from others.  When your time runs out, so do you.  Just like that.

The movie stars Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, and so many other young or young-looking actors.  Even Olivia Wilde has some screen time portraying Timberlake’s mother.  (I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never really seen much of Wilde’s work in the past, so I’m not that familiar with her.  But, she is really just frickin’ beautiful, isn’t she??)

Such a pretty cast.  I was really hoping that the movie wasn’t just going to be a couple of hours of eye candy, fast car chases, and lots of running around.

I was disappointed.

The movie was just a couple of hours of eye candy, fast car chases, and lots of running around.

Will Salas (Timberlake) is given a century of time from a mysterious man who tells him the truth behind time – who has it, who doesn’t, and how it is kept from the “have nots” so that the “haves” can live forever.  When he watches his mother fall lifeless in front of him when her time runs out, he vows to take down the system and travels to New Greenwich, where the rich live.  While there, he meets Sylvia Weis (Seyfried) and her father, Phillipe…and learns that he’s being accused of murdering the man who gave him the extra 100 years.  This sets off the rest of the movie.  Will grabs a gun, fights his way out of police custody, takes Sylvia hostage, and hits the road.

Now, rather than exploring the complexities of this particular universe, the movie turns into an odd version of Robin Hood.  So much becomes predictable.  Of course, Sylvia – while putting up a resistance at first – realizes that her spoiled privileged life was never really “living” and falls for our intrepid hero.  Of course, Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Murphy) vows to stop Will and Sylvia at all costs.  Of course, Sylvia’s father turns out to be a bastard who loves his money time more than his daughter. Of course, there were car chases and foot chases and breaking glass and wrecked cars.  Of course.

What I really wanted to know was the back story.

How did the world come to this point?  When did time actually become currency?  Who decided it should be so?  Why did it become this way?

There’s reference to Will’s father who was killed when Will was very young.  The characters mention that his father didn’t have problems in life because he took time, but because he gave it away.  Why?  This, it seems to me, is an essential plot point.  After all, Will is now doing the same thing – emboldened by his father before him.

There were so many opportunities to provide parallels to current and/or recent economic issues – but these opportunities were passed over in favor of a lot of running.

Timberlake and Seyfried just didn’t seem to have great chemistry going in this movie.  Their attraction just wasn’t believable.  Usually I can see the “push and pull” between actors on the screen – the ways they feed off each others’ performances.  Unfortunately, Timberlake and Seyfried were just reciting memorized words in the proper order.  Timberlake’s shining moment, for me, was his heartfelt wailing while holding Wilde’s lifeless body in his arms.

The dialogue was, really, quite unremarkable.  Niccol did find a way to include just about every pun or turn of phrase dealing with “time”.  It got to be annoying, actually.

Overall, I would give this movie 1 out of 5 stars.  The “1” is for casting pretty people.

Unfortunately – unlike the characters in this movie – that’s 2 hours of my life that I have no way of getting back.

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