In Time

It is said that time is money and in the new film “In Time” this statement takes on an entirely new meaning. In the future we learn that humans have been genetically created to stop aging at the age of 25. Once they reach this selected age, a clock starts to count down from one year. People can obtain more time via work, stealing it from others, or being gifted more time but once their clock hits zero, they expire or “Time Out” as it is called.

As the film opens, we are introduced to Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a man who is three years past twenty five who lives at home with his mother (Olivia Wilde). Will starts each day with barely enough time on his clock for another day, so he dutifully heads off to work each day to earn more time. As does his mother and everyone he knows since workers are paid at the end of their shifts by having more time added to their accounts. Many need to work daily in order to see the next day. To stop working is to die and since everything from food to rent and clothing is paid for in time from an individual’s account, they often have to make the choice between a transaction or more hours of life.

One evening after work, Will encounters a man named Henry (Matt Bomer), with over 100 years remaining on his clock and cautions the man that in this area he is likely to attract thieves. Will’s warnings go unheeded and soon a group of thugs arrive forcing Will to whisk the man away to safety. During their night in hiding, the man tells Will that after living for over a century, he is tired of the way the system is and how the rich can live forever while the working poor suffer just to live another day.

Will awakens the next morning to find the man gone and that his clock has now been credited the 100 years. Will locates the man just in time to watch him time out with a smile as he watches the sun rise. Flush with new wealth, Will plans to move his mother out of the slums and into a better life but when tragedy strikes, Will decides to move to where the wealth is as to take them for all he can.

Will soon finds himself in a high stakes card game at a casino and in a desperate move finds himself wealthier than he ever imagined. His actions impress very wealthy banking magnet Philippie Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), who introduces him to his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Will and Sylvia hit it off as she is intrigued by someone who came into money rather than being born with it and imagines what life would be like with some excitement.

Will and Sylvia soon have their worlds turned upside down when Will is suspected in the death of Henry and find themselves on the run from a Timekeeper named Raymond (Cillian Murphy), who wants to bring Will to justice. In a rapid series of events, Will and Sylvia must contend with Raymond, criminals, and a series of unsavory characters to regain their lost time before it is to late so they can implement their master plan to truly make a difference.

The film has some great social commentary and a great cast but is hindered by trying to be too many things. It works well as a science fiction film with elements of action and romance. Sadly the film goes off course by having Will and Sylvia act as a modern day Robin Hood duo taking on the powers-that-be to save the downtrodden masses. While it is a noble effort it derailed the momentum of the story as much of the tension and mystery of the story was lost. If one is wanted by thugs and the authorities, I would think that knocking over one high profile time bank after another would not be the way to keep a low profile.

That being said, despite the flaws, the film works and I found myself thinking about the characters and the setting they lived in days after the I screened the film. I had been concerned that the film would be nothing more than a knockoff of “Logan’s Run” but thankfully the film had enough new content to keep it fresh and interesting. In many ways, “In Time” is science fiction at its best as it allows for timely social commentary and provides a disturbing look at many age old debates on society’s endless quests for wealth, power, and youth.

3.5 stars out of 5.