Now Showing this week is In Time, directed by Andrew Niccol of Gattaca (1997) fame. Justin Timberlake proves once again that he can act as he portrays Will Salas, a man who lives with his mother and who are both struggling to get by financially. However, they both live in the future (the exact year isn’t specified but one can assume it’s at least a century from now) and the global currency is Time. The “ageing gene” (that’s all the explanation we’re given!) has been abolished and as a result no one ages past the age of twenty-five. But logically, if everyone was to live forever then global resources would dry up very quickly; so to fix this problem money has been replaced with Time and the rich may live forever with centuries on their “clocks” whilst the poor only have mere hours or even minutes on theirs’. When Will meets a suicidal man with a thousand years on his clock, the man generously gives Will all his Time so as to end his life. Will sees this as a gift and wishes to treat his mother to everything she’s always wanted, but (spoiler alert!) sadly he doesn’t reach her in time (that’s the name of the movie!) and her clock runs out, resulting in her death. Out of revenge, Will sets out to fight the Time system. That’s the basic premise, any more would spoil too much.
If it’s one thing I can give Andrew Niccol credit for, it’s that he sure can create some awesome future societies. Both in In Time and Gattaca he has successfully created these amazing worlds that are so different to our own, with their own colloquial sayings and habits etc. but yet comment on our actual world so well. The colloquialisms in In Time were very enjoyable; phrases such as “she timed out” and “that will be three weeks, please” were quite cool. The fact that the poor do everything very quickly and that they run everywhere whilst the rich are very slow at doing things as they have the time to do so was an excellent touch. The film really introduces us to that world very effectively; it never wastes any time and we fully understand the class system as well as the value of different measures of time. That in of itself is a very enjoyable experience of this film.
Unfortunately, however, the rest of the developments in the film are just as quick. Everything just moves along so quickly, too quickly. It doesn’t seem that way at first as we are absorbing a lot of information about this future reality; but once the character developing moments start to happen they develop the characters ridiculously quickly. Spoiler alert again, but when Will’s mother dies there is the cliched him screaming at the sky while holding her body, but then in the next scene it’s like it never happened! He mentions her timing out at one point but there was no grieving or anything for the loss of her. And when Will meets the love interest character Sylvia after winning seven hundred years off her father in a poker game, she says to him bitterly “hello Mr. Salas, congratulations on taking so many years off my father’s life.” But five minutes later she’s totally up for skinny dipping! Um…what? I know this is the future and social interaction may be different but there must still be a basic human drive of grievance for the loss of a parent or for enough self respect to not be mixing signals so badly as to skinny dip with the man you chastised for shortening your father’s life? Maybe it’s just me.
The film does kind of hit the audience over the head with it’s message that human kind is not meant to live forever and that the price of immortality is too high. I thought that the film was going to take a different approach when the villain had a speech about the fact that every human accepts that the system of life means that the less fortunate will inevitably die young but that they themselves will be the special one who will actually live forever. That was such an interesting analysis of the human condition, but then Will retorts with a self righteous speech that “no one should live forever if even one person has to die”. And while what Will says is true, the villain’s speech was more of a pulling-no-punches critique of humanity.
All of this aside, In Time is a good film. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the analytically, insightful film that I was hoping for. But the film’s originality is very enjoyable and I’d recommend you check it out. And as long as you can handle all the “time” puns, you will probably feel the same!
See you next time!