Sunday, October 30, 2011

Movie Review: In Time

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A number of years ago cartoon artist Gary Larson came up with a panel that showed a scientist standing in front of a black board with his hands on his hips. On the board were all sorts of equations with the one, right at eye level, showing an equation with the result equaling a dollar symbol. Underneath is the caption "Einstein discovers that time is actually money." What if that were actually the case? What if time was money? What if time is the currency that is traded in transactions where today you would use dollars? Director and writer Andrew Niccol uses this proposition as the basis for his latest movie, In Time.

In Time Movie Poster
Will Salas (Justin Timerlake) lives in the future that genetically, when you are born you have one year of time given to you that kicks in once you hit the age of twenty-five and you stay looking that way no matter how much time you live past that moment. How much time you have is on your left forearm in 13 digits: seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months and years. Anyone can see the digits unless its covered, sort of like having your bank account balance out there for anyone to see. When you want a cup of coffee, ride the bus or pay rent you have a deduction taken from your balance. When you work, you have time added. You can give people your time literally or it can be stolen from you as well. When your balance hits zero, you die by a Time Out. If you are killed before you time out, the remaining balance is wasted time.

Will lives with his mother (Olivia Wilde) and works at a factory in Dayton. Very appropriate name considering they live day to day. They struggle to earn enough time to pay the rent on time. When a man, Henry Hamilton, from New Greenwich (the up scale neighborhood) decides that he doesn't want to live any longer, that he wants his time to be up, he gives a sleeping Will over a century of time before he times out himself. Why would Henry just toss in the towel? After living 105 years, he doesn't feel that anyone show live forever. This gift causes problems for Will.

Venturing into New Greenwich based on a comment that Henry made in a conversation the two men had, Will meets Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter to time magnate Phillipe Weis. Will is tracked to New Greenwich by Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy) who is investigating the time out of Hamilton. Will escapes taking Sylvia as a hostage as he attempts to correct what he feels is injustice between the people in New Greenwich and the residents of Dayton. A battle of sorts between the haves and the have nots.

The premise showed some promise but it fell into a trap with using all sorts of cliches about time some of which just didn't quite work. There were some inconsistencies in the action of time payments and withdrawals and locations. It was noted between Sylvia and Will that he had not come from Old Time as he was rushing around and he ran where as a person with lots of time on their hand (well, actually arm) would be taking things slower. With time as currency, phrases like "don't waste my time" and "I have all the time in the world" take on new meaning. The other references to time became a bit distracting but you could start to think differently about the time that you have. "Take it a day at a time" would have new meaning as the neon green numbers in your skin count down from 23:59:59. Although I might have missed it, when one person was stealing time from another, I don't remember hearing the phrase "I'm cleaning your clock" coming up. So it does appear they used a little restraint in the cliche department.

If you watch In Time, it will cost you 109 minutes of your time and is rated PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language.

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