Runtime: 110 minutes
In Detroit-area theaters: today, October 28th
Screening: 10/25 at Emagine Novi
I love dystopian books and movies – those set in the future with a corrupt or unfamiliar government/life system – and In Time fits the mold exactly. I had been wanting to see this film ever since I first saw its trailer, and luckily it did not disappoint me.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake, Friends with Benefits) lives his life on a day-to-day basis in the impoverished city of Dayton. When he wakes up each morning, the first thing he does is check his arm to see how much time he has left that day. Between rent and food payments, he and his mom (Olivia Wilde, Cowboys and Aliens) barely have enough time to get through the day. In the future, time has replaced money as currency. Want a cup of coffee? That will be four minutes. It was three minutes yesterday, but today is four, due to inflation. Today is Will’s mother’s 50th birthday, and also the day that his life is going to be irrevocably changed, though he doesn’t know that yet.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried, Red Riding Hood) was born into time (born into “money”), in the upscale city of New Greenwich, where most Dayton residents only dream about visiting. When her clock kicked in at the age of 25, as is the custom, Sylvia had one year on it, as everyone initially gets. For her 25th birthday present, though, her father (Vincent Kartheiser, TV’s Mad Men) gave her a gift of a century in time. She never has to worry about time over her life span, which she’s lived in privilege – until she meets Will, who kidnaps her while trying to escape from the Weis mansion. Soon the two of them are on the run from the authorities (including the Timekeeper, played by Cillian Murphy) and they must try to avoid them, while at the same time making sure their clocks don’t run out.
The cast in this movie was phenomenal, although JT admittedly needs to work on his crying skills. You have Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, two rising stars, as well as Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men, Cillian Murphy (Inception), Matt Bomer (TV’s White Collar), Johnny Galecki (TV’s The Big Bang Theory), and Olivia Wilde, as JT’s mom, which elicited a few laughs from the audience during the first scene between the two of them, as the actress is about the same age as him. The way that the time system works in this dystopia is that after you turn 25, your clock starts, and you get 1 year; after that, any longer you want to live is up to you to earn. Will works at a factory of sorts to earn his time, but the quotas that he needs to meet to earn time become higher every day, and it’s getting harder and harder to earn a decent time (living) in order to pay for daily expenses.
Yes, definitely see this movie. There will be naysayers who complain that the theme has been done before – “the rich should give money to the poor, everyone should be equal, etc.” – but In Time delivers this while showing the effects that the poor go through in the ghetto, and how really little the rich do care about them. Will sees people “time out” every day, something that the New Greenwich citizens don’t often have to see, and it comes to affect his opinions of how time should be distributed. The cities are broken up into “time zones,” as well, and it costs time to leave each time zone – much like the highway tolls we pay nowadays – and so if you live in Dayton, the ghetto, it’s fairly difficult to leave that zone for greener pastures.
I also really liked how the lavishness of New Greenwich was presented as compared to the desolation of Dayton. There’s a scene where Will enters a casino, where it’s mostly members-only, and the greeter at the door slyly tells him that non-members are welcome, but a “voluntary” donation of 1 year is what most give as an entry fee. Sylvia lives in a gigantic mansion, too, and during a party scene there we see exactly how different it is from Dayton, where Will grew up. There are also a few car chases and running scenes thrown in to the mix, and the film never falls victim to slowing down during the middle. In Time is Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood, while set in the future, and anyone will enjoy it.