In Time (2011)

Anthony G Williams

Apr 18, 2007
In Time has a classic SF plot by writer/director Andrew Niccol, set a century and a half into a dystopian future in which everyone stops ageing when they reach 25 and can potentially live forever. The catch is that the universal currency is not money but the minutes and hours of people's lives, known as "living time". Everyone has a clock/calendar built into their forearms which counts down in real time, and from which extra time is deducted whenever they purchase anything or transfer time to someone else; they can similarly add time by earning (or stealing) it. Run out of "living time" and you drop dead on the spot. Most people struggle to earn enough time to continue living day by day, especially as prices are kept rising (and wages falling) by the controlling class of super-rich, who genuinely can live forever - as long as they do nothing stupid. They live in luxurious secure zones which cost months of living time just to enter. The following review contains some minor spoilers.

Will Salas (well portrayed by Justin Timberlake, someone who's name is very familiar but whom I can't recall ever having seen before) is one of the poor, constantly at risk of running out of living time but a man of principle who shares out what he has among his friends. He helps a member of the rich who gets into trouble while slumming down-town, and finds himself with more living time than he has ever dreamed of. The questions are; what will he do with it, and can he avoid the attentions of local gang leader Fortis (Alex Pettyfer) and police "Timekeeper" Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy)?

Salas uses his new wealth to head uptown where he meets Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) who is immediately attracted to the dangerous and exciting Salas. But what future can they find in the face of the powerful forces opposed to them, and can they do anything to mitigate the unfairness of the stratified society?

This film has echoes of others, most obviously Logan's Run in which everyone dies at the age of 30, but In Time has a darker and more adult feel, more reminiscent of Bladerunner and especially Gattaca. It isn't as good as those two, but it's still one of the better recent SF movies and well worth watching.

(An extract from my SFF blog:
The concept of your living time as currency was clever but there were issues with the movie, but overall it was watchable and didn't require too much thinking.
Loved this movie ! One of the better scifi movies lately, really stylish and good cgi.
Maybe storywise it's a bit basic, but if I had to give it a rating I'd say 4 out of 5 stars.
I'm not sure how I've missed this film before. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the writer of Gattaca and The Truman Show. This was great after the last few poor Netflix films I've watched. A kind of updating of Logan's Run; everyone stops aging at 25, but you are genetically-engineered to die at 26, unless you earn or steal more time. In an interesting analogy to rich versus poor, the rich have more time to live and the poor have none at all. It's a very stark contrast where the poorest literally die from a lack of time, and the rich live for centuries, practically being immortals. Timekeepers police this society, and Cillian Murphy is the Timekeeper hunting down Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, who after he is falsely accused of murder, go on a Bonnie and Clyde/ Robin Hood spree to give time to the poor (her father is as rich as one can ever be.) The bring down the system, though maybe only for a few generations, because everyone wants to be immortal and to be immortal others have to die.

It ought to be much better than it is, given the previous films by the director, and also given that the young cast has gone on to do much bigger films, but recommended.
I enjoyed it well enough. It's a fun movie, if you can ignore the plot holes.

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