The subject of time and immortality has had a long standing tradition in science fiction. Perhaps the most famous of late was the 1976 film LOGAN'S RUN where people died voluntarily on their thirtieth birthday. So it only seems natural that the subject of time would once again come to the forefront in sci-fi as it does with IN TIME.
In the future humans have been genetically altered to stop aging at on their 25th birthday. The problem is when they hit that age they only have so many hours left to live. Embedded in each person is a digital readout on their arm that shows how long they have. To gain more hours you must work to earn them. This means those on the low end of the scale must work to pay for their daily needs like food and shelter. It also means that when their clock reads 0 they die.
Existing in this world is Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a factory worker trying to make ends meet while living with his mother (Olivia Wilde). She has just turned 50 and it may take viewers a second to realize that when he kisses this woman it's his mom not a girlfriend. Remember, you stop aging at 25.
Due to celebrate her birthday after work, Will stops by a bar with his friend to find a stranger passing out free drinks with nearly a century of time on his arm. When the local hood and his gang attempt to rob him of his time, Will helps him escape. The man is Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) and he and Will talk about time. He explains that for there to be time for the upper crust to live they have to take it from someone else. Tax hikes and higher prices are just ways for the rich and famous to live longer at the costs of those below them. While hiding out overnight, Henry passes along his hours to Will telling him to use them wisely.
Will tries to reach his mother but things don't work out as planned. She's just paid off her latest loan with less than an hour left and it costs 2 hours to ride the bus. On the street near home she and Will head towards each other but just as they are about to meet, she collapses, her time out. Now Will decides to take the time problem to its source, the wealthy.
Staying at fine hotels and buying a fast car, the world of the rich is different. No one hurries as they have all the time in the world. But Will can't help himself. It's this fast paced lifestyle that singles him out as the Timekeepers, police who handle time crimes, come looking for him led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy). Will ends up at a casino where he wagers all his time against a wealthy businessman named Philipe Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), a wager that Will wins resulting in an invitation to Weiss home.
At the party Will meets Philipe's daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) and the two are attracted to one another. But Sylvia also finds herself attracted to the differences she finds in Will having no idea where he is actually from. When the Timekeepers show to arrest Will, he takes Sylvia hostage and heads home.
What follows is a transformation of Sylvia as she sees how others live doing anything for just a few more hours. With the Timekeepers hot on their trail, they begin robbing banks to redistribute time to those in need, sort of a Robin Hood of the time clock.
Eventually we know that a final confrontation will result as Raymond diligently pursues the couple as does the local hood Will confronted at the start of the film. With plenty of high speed chases and some face to face confrontation, the film features plenty of action for fans without a ton of story to get in the way. Sure the story is there but as the film heads to its end it becomes smaller and smaller.
The time is money wordplay works well throughout the film and the story does have enough meat on it to be interesting. As always it does ring a little hypocritical for high paid movie stars to be in a movie that's presents an allegory about how wealthy people should share the wealth with everyone instead of taking it all for themselves, especially when ticket prices for a movie run an average of $9.
Timberlake shows that he can act better than many would expect. Too many write him off as little more than a singer but he's turning into one of the few all round entertainers show business has to offer. Seyfried looks gorgeous as always and does a great job when it comes to action as well. Murphy demonstrates that he's not a one note actor, offering a performance of a cop on a mission quite well.
On the whole the movie is pure fluff entertainment posing as a message movie. The entertainment offered is substantial but the message is lost and would seem better suited for a Michael Moore movie where he sits in his mansion complaining about how the little people are being ripped off. All in all it's still a good time and worth a rental.
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