In Time – A review

In Time is a new Sci-Fi film directed by Andrew Nichol and starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried with supporting roles for Matt Bomer, Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy, Johnny Galecki, Alex Pettyfer and Vincent Kartheiser.

The conceit is that they have discovered immortality.  People are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 years old.  But there is a catch, when they hit 25 they have a countdown clock that provides them only one more year to live.  Everyone’s year of life becomes the currency of the new society.  You earn more time at your job and you pay with minutes and hours of your life for goods, services, debts and taxes.

The movie is part sci-fi social commentary (ala Gattaca), part Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood and part modern action movie.  While I think  the movie misses the mark on all three aspects I thought it was quite good and fun overall.  It is rated PG.  There is gunfights but few deaths and no blood.  (There are some on screen deaths though).  There is no sex or nudity, but some scantily clad and suggestive scenes.  There is little swearing.

The theme of the movie is that the disparity of wealth is bad.  It is quite timely considering the ongoing Occupy protests occurring concurrently to its release.  The time system is setup so that most people live in a ghetto and have only enough life to live day-to-day.  Meanwhile the lucky few are rich.  They are effectively immortal and live on the minutes taxed and collected in interest on debts from the majority.

The flaw with the movie is that its morality is too simple.  The system is obviously unjust and cruelly tilted in favour of the wealthy.  The villains (there are three main villains – one in the ghetto, one who is a cop, and one of the wealthy) all have the same motivation of maintaining the status quo because they prosper while others suffer.

The heroes fight to break the system.  They do so by stealing from the rich to give to the poor with the hope that having the wealth flow in the other direction will crash the system.  The flaw is that a single theft of a million years by two people won’t crash an economic system.  I’d say instead you need a million thefts by different people of 1 year.

Still the concepts are interesting and it causes you to think and hopefully think quite a bit of such ideas are new to you.

The Bonnie and Clyde idea of a pair of thieves has issues for me because I find Amanda Seyfried has almost no screen presence.  The dynamic of an interesting love story of  pair of rebels finding themselves, each other and the world is all there, but doesn’t quite ring true.  And maybe it is just me, but a good Bonnie and Clyde theme should end in tragedy… I do like Justin Timberlake in his role though.  He has the charisma and insouciance to pull off the role.  He continues to impress me in his roles although this isn’t nearly as good as his turn in last year’s The Social Network.

The action quotient has two types of scenes: robberies and escapes.  The escapes work quite well with some interesting standoffs, car chases and foot chases.  But the robberies are all quite dull.  It is as if the director has no interest in them and shows them merely as exposition.

The supporting cast is OK.  Cillian Murphy is effective (as normal) as the main foe – the Timekeeper trying to track down the heroes.  Familiar faces from TV such as Olivia Wilde and Johnny Galecki has surprisingly small roles, but I do like them.   Vincent Kartheiser does a good job as the wealthy villain, but I think his part suffered by not being complex enough.

Overall, I recommend the movie.  It is at least a good renter.


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