In this dystopian action thriller, we enter a precarious new word where the system of money no longer exists. The currency is time and the new capitalism is a matter of how much time you have on your hands. People are born biologically wired to stop aging and start ticking at the age of 25 (this number isn’t random for anyone who is aware that this is the age when your spine stops growing).
Just like our current system of capitalism, having time is a matter of life and death, but unlike running out of money, running out of time is no slow death, but an instantaneous one. At 25, everyone has a year on their arm. But this time isn’t just for keeping your body functioning, but also to pay for food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities.
It’s 2169 and Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is tired of the struggle, tired of prices and taxes going up weekly or even daily, tired of literally living day to day and waking up with less time on his clock than there are hours in a day. Will’s luck changes, however, when he meets Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a rich 105-year-old who’s slumming it at his local bar and attracts the attention of time poachers. Just as they hoard money today, the rich of the future hoard time, and create districts to segregate themselves from the have-nots. After Will saves his life, suicidal Henry gifts him 116 years and lets himself “time out”.
Knowledge is power and in this world, the reverse is also true. With this new power, and the luxury to not have to rush through life, Will quickly learns that he and the other people of the ghetto are kept poor intentionally, since (barring theft, an accident, or some sort of poisoning) no one will die with enough time, and a world filled with healthy people at their peak reproductive years would be a recipe for overpopulation. The rich would rather live forever than allow everyone to have a fair share. Finally, Will has the time to think about the world in which he lives, and do something about it.
Will goes from a world where orphans beg on the street for time to eat from people who have only hours or minutes, to one where the rich bet one another centuries which could feed his entire neighbourhood in decadent poker games. It’s at one of these games that Will not only wins over a millennia from Phillipe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), but also meets his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), who invites Will to their home. Like most rich people, Sylvia is bored to the point of recklessness and when the Timekeepers (police) show up and accuse Will of murdering Henry, she gets more than she bargained for when Will takes her hostage.
Part Robin Hood, part Bonnie and Clyde, In Time follows Will and Sylvia as the two peel back the layers of this corrupt system and work to redistribute time to those who need it the most. The plot of this film and several sequences within are amazing, but I felt it vastly underdeveloped, for such a rich premise, especially since the best performance was given by Timberlake (Seyfried’s performance was, sadly, as stiff as that horrendous wig she wore). There were a lot of gems, however. We glimpse how the poor are forced to exploit one another to survive, how poverty breeds crime, how some irresponsibly manage time, as well as the huge pushback against the nouveaux rich in a world which works tediously to ensure that the poor remain that way. Like most dystopia dealing with class warfare, we also glimpse how White people can be poor, but people of colour are never rich (see: Snowpiercer (2013)), because racism permeates everything. And of course, there’s the insane pressure to look as hot as possible before 25 rolls around, since you’re going to look that way for the rest of your life, which serves to remind us that beauty still plays a huge role in how we are perceived by others.
Above all, as much as the world has changed, certain elements like classism and police corruption remain. Oh, joy.
I give this one 3.75 stars.