By Kenna Trent
“Time is money” is a cliché used by people who make the most of every minute in their day. However, the phrase is used literally by writer and director Andrew Niccols in his new film, In Time.
That sounds like a fantastic and original idea, right? Not only does the time stamp on your arm dictate what you can buy or where you can live, it is also counting down the seconds until you die.
Want a cup of coffee? That’s three days off your life.
Unfortunately, perhaps time as money isn’t as new and exciting as we might think.
There is not much explanation as to how the world came to the time currency situation depicted. What the audience is told is that each person has 25 years to live. At the age of 25, you stop aging and your time clock starts. At this point, you only have one year to live unless you can find more time. The rich society members hold all the cards and can live forever, while the poor are killed in the streets for their time and live day by day.
Enter Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a factory worker and honest guy trying to take care of his mother, played by Olivia Wilde. Yes, I said his mother is played by Olivia Wilde: Remember, you stop aging at 25.
Salas gains a century of time by saving a very rich man who wants to die. This action does not go unnoticed by the “time keepers,” or police who are in place to make sure time is distributed fairly and evenly. Salas goes on the run to avoid the “time keepers” and try to shake up the upper class by redistributing the wealth, all with the help of Miss Blueblood herself, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried).
Let me start by saying the film’s imagery looks very good. The constant movement of running and/or driving is not done in a way that seems rushed or confusing. Also, the pristine shots of New Greenwich versus the dirty ghettos are contrasting enough visually to solicit emotion. However, I cannot give the plot the same credit.
Once the main characters started to realize their potential, the story turned into a simple Robin Hood tale of taking from the rich to give to the poor. And when that doesn’t work, they…well, they take some more from the rich and give it to the poor in a Bonnie and Clyde, shoot-em-up kind of way.
Wait a second; this is starting to seem a little nostalgic, isn’t it?
Perhaps it is a way to remind us that the same themes fit into every society. “Occupy Wall Street” protests are all about the unfair advantage given to the one percent of the most wealthy Americans. The middle class is shrinking in America, while the rich get richer, the poor are forced into being poorer by a controlling governing body. All of these current battles are manifested by Niccols into time banks, corrupt police and a desperate lower class.
Now, let’s get to what you really want to know. Timberlake doesn’t do too poorly as the action hero. Yeah, there are some times where it looks like he is trying just a little too hard, but he easily comes off as a nice guy who is not afraid to do bad things. Plus, Seyfried did a great job of working through her cheesy dialogue to make her character likable, and Cillian Murphy continues working his “bad guy” role very well, even though he is the one actor who doesn’t look 25.
Overall, In Time is an enjoyable action flick. It moves quickly and will make you think enough to keep you interested the entire time. If you can look past the time clichés and overall improbability of the film, you will genuinely enjoy it. Unfortunately, it seems like the film was a way for Niccols to do his best Christopher Nolan impression, but I just couldn’t buy it.