On the heels of a disappointing performance in the horribly cheesy summer hit Friends With Benefits, Justin Timberlake is back in action for In Time. The film, latest from the sci-fi mind of Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show), takes place in a dystopian world where time is quite literally, money.
As currency, time buys everything from food to housing in time zones dedicated for citizens of different social classes. Citizens of this alternative world are granted 25 years of guaranteed life, and stop aging when they reach the quarter-century. They then have one year that immediately begins to count down on a fluorescent clock superimposed in the forearm. In the ghetto of Dayton, we meet Will Salas (Timberlake), a man who wakes up every day with just hours to live. Like many others, Will must go to work in order to “make time” and survive. Running to a destination might mean the difference between life and death, for when the clock reaches zero, a person simply “times out.”
The rich and famous live in the time zone of New Greenwich, where Will finds himself after a freak inheritance. Citizens of New Greenwich come from long lines of “time.” They never run. Soon, Will is thrust into a race against the clock from cops called timekeepers and the family of time millionaire, Sylvia Weis, played by the charming yet clever Amanda Seyfried.
Of the films most striking features is the 25-year age limit, loosely kept by the cast members. Every single person is beautiful. It’s not just Timberlake at his finest or the limitless sexy of Seyfried. Everyone is stunning and it makes for an entertaining distraction from the movie’s clear plot holes, i.e.: How ever did regular humans end up as ticking time bombs? What, exactly, is Will Salas running from?
Perhaps the biggest flaw of In Time is the lack of clarity in the main characters. We never quite understand if Will and Sylvia are heroes or villains, though at the end the answer seems clear enough. The supporting cast offers lovely glimpses of the grit and grime so desired by true sci-fi fans. Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theoryproves his silver screen potential as Will’s impoverished best friend. An ever-eerie Cillian Murphy dazzles as a century-old timekeeper on the hunt for justice.
In Time echoes such dystopian cult greats as Kurt Wimmer’s Equilibrium and perhaps even Fritz Lang’s silent classic Metropolis (a scene of Will’s dead-end job producing time capsules in an overly gray and miserable factory could have been ripped straight from it). We ache for cinematography that follows such films, despite fabulously realized production design.
In Time challenges the importance of money for today’s world of debt and economic decay. Its social messages may be lost amid the action and beautiful faces, but if the impact is embraced, it might just change the bleak outlook we have for the future.