In Time should clock out.
In Time takes place in a dystopian society where geneticists have developed a method where humans stop aging at the age of 25. The catch is that you are guaranteed an extra year of life that you see countdown starting on your 25th birthday on the clock biologically implanted in your forearm. Each and every individual is able to be immortal as long as you continue to accumulate time. This becomes troublesome when one lives in the “ghetto.” This is where we meet Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) and his ageless 50 year old mother Rachel Salas (Olivia Wilde). They literally live day to day, never able to relax as they religiously check their biological clocks to ensure they have enough to survive the day.
Time is the new currency in this dystopia, money has no value, in fact it no longer exists. Time is what employees in the ghetto are paid with; a vast amount of time is what makes the rich so wealthy. Andrew Niccol (who has helmed such interesting oddities as The Truman Show and The Terminal) has introduced another fascinating concept of what the world would be like if youthful immortality was possible. It’s just a shame the movie doesn’t expand or delve deeper into any of the multitude of concepts it proposes.
When a wealthy man, Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), gives Will Salas his 116 years of life left on his clock, leaving a clever note saying “Don’t waste my time” etched in the dirt on an industrial window, the story really begins. Will Salas is accused of stealing Hamilton’s time and is chased across the Time Zones (heavily secured borders separating class groups) by a group called the Timekeepers, a group akin to our police officers of today.
Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy in a role that does not do his talent justice) is the main Timekeeper. His adamancy on the concept Salas stole this time has no merit and essentially this character wastes his time trying to bring down Salas because of an unjustified suspicion. It may be due to an old clash with Salas’ father (which is never fully explained or developed) or due to class prejudice. We never really know.
It is yet another concept that is introduced but never followed through. The idea that law enforcement is mainly concerned with the wealthy, leaving those in the ghetto to a chaotic, anarchic state is an interesting theory that I wish could have been examined a bit deeper.
The rich in this dystopia live in a utopia essentially. The fast paced lives of the poor are paralleled with the sluggish pace of those with enough time where it is no longer of any consequence. They freely gamble large amounts of time away, they drive slowly, they eat slowly, they sleep in. It is an existence of pure leisure. This is where we meet Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser who brings his moody cool acting style from his role as Paul Campbell from Mad Men) the owner of a large time lending corporation, and his rebellious daughter Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried).
When Salas and Weis meet and talk at her father’s house is when the movie becomes a different one altogether.In a mad escape from the Timekeepers who followed him there he suddenly becomes a martial arts master, defeating a house full of body guards and police, jumping off the side of stairways and kidnapping Sylvia Weis to get away. A dramatic, tricky car chase ensues where Salas is also now a master stunt driver.
At first Weis wants to leave, but upon discovering time means more to her father then her she decides to rob her father’s time lending locations and giving it to the poor, interest free, Robin Hood style. Salas and Weis become a Bonnie and Clyde like couple, on the lam from the men in black. None of this makes too much sense as the actions are barely motivated and decisions and personality changes occur too quickly.
In Time’s society is pieced together using tired sci-fi clichés about the future. The “bad guys” wear long leather jackets, combat boots and slicked back hair. The women are stick thin and every feature is meticulously perfected (in high society and Olivia Wilde). And one of the mobster’s (who are called Minutemen) actually wears a fedora with a feather in a strange mix of time period references.
Overall this movie has the potential to be some great insightful didactic film, referencing humanity’s obsession with youth, immortality and issues within today’s society’s structure but instead it turns into a stale, unexciting, wanna-be action movie with some of the worst dialogue exchanges I have ever heard. Some of it was just so completely unnecessary, which you will understand when you see it, or not. I recommend you just take my word for it. But if all you want from a movie is to see pretty people running (and running, and running, and running), pretty people driving, and pretty people shooting things then this is a movie for you.