In Time has a good idea behind it: everyone’s now genetically engineered to age only until 25, when they then have one more year of life they can add to only through hard work (or robbery or theft). The poor, like Will Salas (Justin Timberlake, shorn) live in a ghetto in one timezone, scrimping for every minute and trying not to be robbed by gangsters like Fortis (Alex Pettyfer, rough) and supporting his mother (Olivia Wilde, are you kidding? So hard to get behind this idea.) However, just over in another timezone, you have people with more time than they know what to do with, including businessman Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser, perfect) and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried, not blonde.) What happens if someone like young Will gets pissy enough—and lucky enough, thanks to an unexpectedly timely (haha oh god there are many time puns to be had here) donation, to try and level the playing field?
It’s an interesting concept ruined once you try to think about it longer than thirty seconds. It’s an allegory for the power money has over people: after all, if you can’t afford shelter, food, or medical care, what hope do you have? And in this current economic climate, it’s true that few people hold most of the money just because they’re horrible examples of humanity. And it’s a pretty fun movie on a very base level, with a man hell-bent on revenge, a beautiful young woman who can’t help but be attracted to a man from the wrong side of the tracks with superior morals, an oily bad guy, some horrible thieves with cultured accents and a (time)cop who just wants to uphold the law, no matter who’s breaking it. But ultimately, it fails, because:
1) They never explain why society evolved like it did. I’m happy to take leaps of faith, but you have to give me something.
2) There are so many corny time/money jokes, it’s like someone as cheesy as me wrote the damn thing.
3) Why does everyone stop aging at 25?
4) Who would agree to have their child implanted with an under-the-skin digital clock that has a timer?
5) Cillian Murphy, while awesome, cannot pass as twenty-five.
6) Why does a civilisation advanced enough to be able to pass time through skin contact not have any other technological advances apart from a CCTV system that conveniently follows no one but important characters?
7) Why does everyone drive 70s-noir muscle cars like they’re in Mad Max?
8) Honestly, it is just really, really impossible to ever believe that a society would turn out this way, even being as pessimistic as I can muster.
9) You only ever see one evil fat cat in Kartheiser’s Philippe—does no one actually rule this world, or the countries, or the timezones? Is no one actually in charge?
10) And seriously, why the hell is everyone in this world skinny? This just makes no sense at all.
11) The future doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test.
12) How does it all WORK??
On the upside, there’s some good casting (Alex Pettyfer and Vincent Kartheiser are stand-outs), it trundles along nicely, and the Robin Hood aspect of Will and Sylvia’s criminal spree is something you can really get behind. It really has to be said that having everyone’s timers on the verge of running out half every second scene makes for some seriously intense viewing: anyone can die, at any time.
In Time isn’t the worst thing you could spend your afternoon watching, but if you really want something juicy this week, go see Drive.
I give it twelve out of twenty-five years.