By: Billy Arceneaux (Four Beers) –
In Time is set in either an alternate universe or a distant future, where science has found a way to shut off the aging gene once a person reaches 25. After that, a permanent clock on your arm is set, giving you one year left to live. If you want to live longer you must add more time – now the global currency – to your clock. Of course, with a free market in a world like that, not everyone can be immortal.
The movie follows Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), who, after an encounter with a suicidal man, is given over a century of time. This, coupled with the death of his mother, the hooking up with an attractive heiress (Amanda Seyfried), and a pursuit by a relentless TimeKeeper (a cop, Cillian Murphy), starts Will off on a mission to upset a corrupt system that favors the few and exploits the many.
The creative allegory – a society where time is literally money; where the rich are immortal and the poor live literally day to day – is not only strong, but fairly easy to understand. With #OWS still going strong, any help in getting its message out about income inequality and a corrupt financial system can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, the film’s message is also the major drawback. Well, how it’s delivered anyways.
Never been THAT broke before.
I was ecstatic when I read that Andrew Niccol was going to write and direct this. His previous films Gattaca and Lord of War both dealt with major issues without being too on the nose about it. With In Time, however, he seems to have lost some of his subtlety. In almost every scene of this movie there is a reference that reminds you of the film’s parallels to modern life. Instead of creating a unique world with issues that are somewhat similar to our own, it chooses to just take a Bonnie & Clyde / Robin Hood– inspired screenplay, replace the word “money” with “time”, and make the meaning painfully obvious. After a while, I found myself laughing with frustration at how the story was communicating with me.
Puns! Along with the movie’s obvious message, the dialogue is riddled with time-related puns. It was cute at first, but just got out of hand when all was said and done. I’m no active drinker, but I should’ve traded my Mr. Pibb for a daiquiri.
I feel for Sherlock
At one point, Will and his girlfriend break into a time bank by crashing a truck into it. Afterwards, during an investigation of the event, a TimeKeeper quips “They must’ve thought it was a drive thru”. Hardy har har.
The accuracy of the film’s message doesn’t make up for the poor way it expresses it. This is unfortunate, especially coming from Andrew Niccol. Maybe the studio wanted a dumbed-down action flick and were hoping people would as well?
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every pun about time (recommended).
Take a Drink: whenever you wish for more subtlety.
Take a Swig: if you were as disappointed as I was.