In Time (2011)
Time is quite literally money in the movie In Time, starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who previously wrote Gattaca and S1m0ne which both had similar dystopian themes, we are presented with a chilling scenario. What if you had to spend minutes or hours or perhaps days of your life in the same way you spend money? The movie offers a future where the population is genetically programmed to stop aging at twenty-five. If you're rich enough, you can purchase and trade this commodity, adding time to your life, making you effectively immortal. For the poor, the future is a far bleaker with most dying within a year of this hardcoded end date. Every transaction comes with a price in minutes and seconds.
The beginning of In Time establishes a very bleak and divided world which reminded me of Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men. Director Niccol competently establishes the Timekeepers, the police who enforce time management, as well as Minutemen, thugs who rob you of precious minutes. There are plenty of promising ideas referenced in the first act of the film. However, like so many high concept movies these days, In Time simply fails to develop these themes and elects to pursue a more traditional “chase and romance” approach to its narrative. It is this marked change of direction which derails the movie from its promising start. Viewers au fait with the genre classic Logan’s Run are will quickly predict the direction the film is taking and guess its respective outcome.
This change of gear is not sufficient to rob In Time of all its virtue. There are still some intersecting ideas to be had such as our hero redistributing time among the needy. It’s a minor nod towards the current social trend towards criticising capitalism, but it isn't explored sufficiently. Performances are also surprisingly better than expected. Mr Timberlake is not excessively wooden and has a reliable nemesis in Cillian Murphy. The action is adequately managed within the parameters of a PG-13 rated movie. In Time, like so many recent films, is a production pitched at a specific demographic by film makers. One they think is not that demanding. Thus we have a film that is somewhat superficial and light on content. It may warrant a casual viewing but does not require any in-depth analysis or further consideration.