In Time

By Kathryn Schroeder
Released: October 28, 2011
Watch Trailer
Buy Media
In a future where time is literally money and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time.  Will Salas lives minute-to-minute, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the corrupt system.
Film Review
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the ghetto zone of an imagined future with his mother Rachel (Olivia Wilde). In the future no one ages past twenty-five, so Will's mother looks like she should be his girlfriend. The initial reaction when he calls her Mom makes one cringe; later on when others introduce him to their mother, wife, and daughter and they all look the same age it becomes silly. Will and his mother struggle each and every day to pay the bills. The currency is time, literally, and when you run out of time you die instantly. There is no coming back from a 00-00-00-00 clock--they don't have time defibrilator's in the future. As luck would have it Will meets a wealthy man one evening who has lived long enough and decides to give all of his time to Will. Instantly Will becomes one of the rich, and everyone wants a piece of him--the gangsters, the timekeepers (think police officer), and the rich themselves because they love to gamble with time. Will sets off to the rich zone, buys a shiny new sports car, meets a pretty rich girl named Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) and then all hell breaks loose. Will is now on the run and Sylvia is his hostage, soon to be partner-in-crime.

In Time is about as nonsensical as a film can be. The plot is a jumble of other movies mixed together with drastic results and the chemistry between Timberlake and Seyfried is deplorable. Timing and tone is obviously something Director Andrew Niccol did not consider when working with his two lead characters. What hurts the film the most is that the premise does not make any sense. Time as currency makes sense, it is the execution of it in In Time that will make you so frustrated you want to bang your head against the wall ten times, and then ten more. With all of the problems and faults it is amazing that In Time is not a complete bore of a film. It manages to keep your attention with the nearly campy scenarios and dialogue, and humor in seeing everyone pretend this is all sooooo serious. In Time is not worth your time, but I'll be damned if it does not placate you for a spell.
In a science fiction world the most important element is believability. In order for a viewer to suspend their disbelief, and thus accept the alternate world presented to them on screen, it must make sense. In In Time currency is time; you are born with a timer on your arm and on your twenty-fifth birthday the one free year you are given at birth starts ticking down. Mind you, everything is paid for with time, from your rent to a beer at the bar. Scanners are used on your arm to deduct the time for your purchase. You can also give time or take time from another person. It is the giving/taking of time that makes the script for In Time inconceivable.

You can easily buy into time as currency and grasp the philosophy behind it. The greater meaning being a method to control the population and class structures. The rich can live forever while the poor die out. Darwinism at its finest, and eugenics taken a step into the beyond. What does not make sense is the clock timer on everyone's arms. The script never explains how the timer is embedded on someone at birth, or how it is controlled by the body so it knows to turn on when they turn twenty-five. There is also no mention of just how you can give and take time from another person, or via the scanners used to pay for things. People grasp each other's arms and suddenly the timer goes up or down. There are no barcodes or markings pointing to the exact place of contact in order to activate the exchanges. How then does this all work? It is never revealed to the viewer, leaving one to constantly question the validity of this imagined future world. A science fiction film cannot be a success if it does not make sense, and In Time makes absolutely no sense at its core.

There is also of course the other part of the story (the plot so to speak), of Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) and Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) becoming a futuristic Bonnie and Clyde mingled with Robin Hood. Will and Sylvia may want to be Bonnie and Clyde but they do not even come close. Their Robin Hood escapades of robbing time banks to give to the poor works, at times even becoming kitschy fun. Making way for all of this is the idea that Will, after being given oodles of time by one of the rich who wanted to die, desires to take down the system after his mother dies an unnecessary death--inflation is a killer. Robbing the banks with the wealthy Sylvia Weiss, her daddy is one of the richest men in the world and he controls the time balance, becomes Will's way of breaking the system. Hot on his tail is Timekeeper Jaegar (Cillian Murphy); whether Will was given the time or not it does not mean he gets to keep it as balance must be maintained.

There are also a band of gangsters who steal time from the rich and the poor--and they want what Will and Sylvia have as well. Add to this a sideline of Will's dead father's past and a hint at him being a martyr, only to never have this shockingly interesting plot point elaborated upon, and you fall deeper into the hole In Time digs for itself. If all of this is starting to sound a tad convuluted you would be correct in your understanding of In Time. While the film manages to entertain as little as possible to make it watchable it is full of so many sidelines that never equate to any real meaning and plot devices meant to expel the story to greater depths but only hinder it from being acceptable storytelling. In Time is a mess, and Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried looking pretty together doesn't help improve it--they have as much chemistry as oil and water.

Science Fiction, Action, Thriller
Release Date
October 28, 2011
MPAA Rating
PG 13
Running Time
109 minutes
Production Designer
Music Score
Special Effects