By Toussaint Egan
Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi action movie, “In Time,” is a post-millennial successor to “Logan’s Run”, a pastiche of “Bonnie and Clyde” with retro-futuristic style lifted from Niccol’s own directorial debut “Gattaca.”
The premise of “In Time” goes like this: In the not so distant future, miraculous advances in genetic research have all but removed the aging gene, halting all biological growth and physical deterioration at the age of twenty-five. However, this discovery comes at the cost of gross overpopulation and greater dwindling resources. To counteract this, every human being is now implanted at birth with a translucent sub-dermal counter on their arms that begins tallying from a year after their twenty-fifth birthday. If the timer reaches zero, their biological clock shuts down and they collapse in a violently spasmic death. Time has become the new currency and a person’s livelihood has now literally become a matter of life and death. This radical new social paradigm erodes any semblance of the middle class, the ones that remain are either the destitute lower class forced to eke out an existence constantly skating the edge of death or the opulent immortal upper class who have all but walled themselves off in ivory enclaves of pomp and security.
Will Salas, played by Justin Timberlake, is a lower class twenty-something struggling day by day to support himself and his fifty-year-old mother (Olivia Wilde). One night while out drinking with friends, Will happens upon saving the life of a man with over a century on his clock being chased by a local gang of time thieves so called the Minutemen. After narrowly finding safety from capture, this strange man confides in Will his desire to no longer live in a world corrupted by the rule of time currency. In the morning, Will awakens to discover that the mysterious stranger has transferred the majority of his lifetime onto Will’s clock and subsequently orchestrated his own death. While being pursued by an authoritarian police force known as the Timekeepers and dealing with recent tragedy, Will uses his new-found wealth of time to venture beyond the confines of the ghetto he grew up in to seek out answers, redemption, and revenge.
If you’re looking for anything resembling a deep meditation on the consequences of this world, don’t hold your breath. “In Time” is strictly an action film first and a serious sci-fi second. For a film that on the surface tries to take itself so seriously, the plot too often trades plausibility for tongue-in-cheek style. There are so many visual and spoken puns thrown in to poke fun at the popular concepts of time that you won’t be able to help rolling your eyes at least once throughout the movie.
Although the romantic chemistry between Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried is predictable, both actors bring an amount of character depth to their respective roles that’s just enough for you empathize with their struggle. There are also quite a hefty number of quality celebrity driven minor roles in this film, Olivia Wilde and Johnny Galecki of Big Bang Theory fame to name only a few. There are also a couple of noticeable plot holes, but nothing so major as to distract you from the real emphasis of the film. The action and chase scenes are well constructed and engaging, propelling the film forward
It’s far from original or especially memorable, but the flawed yet compelling world of In Time is just intriguing enough to entertain through the length of the film while remaining ambitious enough to squeeze between the margins an eerily prophetic social commentary.
I would recommend this film to any science-fiction or action movie fans looking for a nice popcorn film and not looking for anything particularly deep.
“In Time” is rated PG-13 and is in theatres now (Oct. 29 2011)