Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser
Running time: 109 minutes
Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future the aging gene has been switched off. To avoid overpopulation, time has become the currency and the way people pay for luxuries and necessities. The rich can live forever, while the rest try to negotiate for their immortality.
IN TIME director and writer Andrew Niccol has given us some unique cinema in his career including the cautionary, futuristic GATTACA and THE TRUMAN SHOW that questioned life and the western world’s ravenous thirst for celebrity culture.
IN TIME places us in a world where the aging gene has been altered. Borrowed from an idea from LOGAN’S RUN, everyone lives to 25 but when you reach that age, a countdown begins that’s embedded in your lower arm and then you have one year left before you die. With IN TIME, Niccol then takes the conventional concept of the rich and the poor but applies it to a future society where your existence depends on how much time you can afford to buy.
There are different time zones and these contain either the rich or the poor. If you’re rich then you have the ability to buy time, live at your own pace and be essentially immortal but if you’re poor then you have to scrape, fight or work to earn extra time to just keep on living.
Our lead is Will Salas, portrayed affably by Justin Timberlake. His life is on the ghetto side of the timeline and one day in a bar, Salas rescues a man in the wrong side of town with over a hundred years left of his time. It turns out the rich kid is very old, no longer wants to live and commits suicide by ‘timing out’ and giving all his time to Salas. From here, the flipside of the difference between lives from both sides of the spectrum begins and although this is possibly commentary on a current economic climate and the massive gap that still exists between class in society, it doesn’t really embed that question into the mind as the film progresses.
Once Will has all this time on his side, he wants to take down the people at the top and quickly finds a way to New Greenwich, where all the money is and people live forever. On his journey he encounters Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), a man out to keep the status quo in humanity because he believes it all needs to balance. Murphy is a definite bright spark in a muddled film, his time-cop persona breathes life into many scenes as does Vincent Kartheiser (MAD MEN’S Pete Campbell) who plays Philippe Weis, the man who owns New Greenwich and this seemingly eternal life.
In this world, we’re also introduced to Weis’s daughter, Slyvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) who gets involved with Will Salas because she believes she wants to feel what life is without any safety net or in her words “The poor die and the rich don’t live.” Timberlake and Seyfried do have flashes of chemistry but the script falters in plot discrepancies and doesn’t really allow for much character development beyond what you work out early on from their characters.
There are cars chases, an extreme amount of ‘time’ puns - to the point of groaning – throughout and although it has a lot of interesting ideas and possibilities, it doesn’t quite merge into a cohesive, confident film that really believes in what it’s saying.
However, IN TIME does have flickers of enjoyable moments and could well be considered an entertaining time-heist film with echoes of ENEMY OF THE STATE and the faint ideology of BONNIE & CLYDE. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, then this should hit the spot.