Oct 29, 2011

In Time Review

This is how I like my utopia/dystopian futures.Simple and with as little time spent on exposition as possible. Great dystopias work the best if you can get the concept of you world across as quick as possible with as few questions from the viewer as you can manage. And In Time does it flawlessly. Everyone has 25 years to live, and then their clock starts ticking, with only 1 year left before their heart goes kaput. Working a job gives you more time, but paying bills and rent takes time away from you. Like the real world currency of cash, you can give time away or even steal it to prolong your own life. That is the entire driving force and premise of the film, and it can be explained in three sentences. This is what happens when a fantastic idea and good writing combine to create something awesome and thought provoking.

A couple of cheesy lines aside, Justin Timberlake actually plays the lead role of Will Salas fairly well. Granted the motivation for his character has been done to death a thousand times, so he probably got a bunch of his inspiration from various sources. However, after a half hour you stop thinking of him as a pop-star trying to cross pollinate into Hollywood and as a character, and that is a feet most singers can't accomplish (Christina Aguleria in Burlesque I am looking at you.)

It shouldn't be too big of a surprise if you follow his career, but Cillian Murphy steals every scene he is in. He makes a great cop, and his character motivation swings between doing the right thing morally and following the laws of the Minutemen, the terminology for cops in this future world. This clever play on words gets the point across very well, and is a nice nod to our troubled past.

It should also be noted that the costume design in this movie is damn near perfect and extremely deliberate. Amanda Seyfried plays Silvia Weis, who spends most of her time with an arm band covering her left forearm, which may seem odd at first, but it is actually a form of identity protection. Everyone has how much time they have left stamped right there on their arm, so hiding this information from plain sight has many advantages. The arm clocks are also really simple and easy to understand, allowing a clear and simple understanding of the moment to moment motivation of nearly every character.

So what about the story? There are two obvious lines to be drawn, and one is happening right now which I hope gives this movie a sense of "Right time and place" success. The most blatant comparison is to that of the current Occupy Wall Street movements going on across the world. In the film, there are companies that control most of the time in the world, while others scrape by days at a time. The 'rich' are shown throwing elegant parties and betting eons at a time on poker hands while the world where Justin Timberlakes character comes from has people dying in the streets from their lease on life running dry, living day to day on the minimum pay they receive from the giant corporations. This movie could literally be re-titled 'The 99%' and have any mention of time in the script replaced with 'money' or 'cash' and it would work just as well.

Which brings us to the next parallel, which was probably intended more so than the Occupy Wall Street movements. After all, I doubt this movie was shot in the last month when Occupy Wall Street started. This movie is a straight up riff on the story of Bonnie and Clyde set in the future. Will Salas meets Sylvia Weis and the two throw doll eyes at each other and the next thing you know they are off robbing banks for time. Of course there are sprinkles of Robin Hood, as the hero must be viewed as a good guy in the eyes of the people, but the constant running and bribing done by Will Salas turns it into a bank heist movie more than anything else.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie, especially if Science Fiction is your thing. While I went to go see it for its conceptual ideas, I walked out getting great performances by the cast and a world that was eerily coherent and in step with current events.