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"In Time" ; if you liked "Gattaca"? Then make time for "In Time"....

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Let me preface that I am a big fan of director Andrew Niccols movies; 1997's "Gattaca" is one of my favorite scifi movies of the last two decades. Also loved "Truman Show" (which he co-wrote), "Sim0ne" (a clever skewering of our obsession with image and celebrity), and even "Lords of War" (my least favorite of his canon, but a solid movie nevertheless).

Posted Image Justin Timerlake and Amanda Seyfried are just "In Time"...

Niccol's latest movie, "In Time", is definitely in the mold of his earlier movie "Gattaca" (in face, it could almost be the same universe as Gattaca). In this non-specific future, time is money... literally (it's a future where cars are '70s vintage, but whine with electric motors and payphones are back; very much the type of scifi world that "Caprica" tried to emulate). After the age of 25 all humans are engineered to stop aging and have to earn additional 'time' beyond the age of 25. The upside? You live healthy and young-looking until the day you die. The bad news? If you're poor, you die a lot sooner. At this point, I saw parallels with "Logan's Run"; there's even a green running 'clock' on your arm that turns black when you're 'timed out.' Kind of alludes to the numerical tattoos Jews were given in concentration camps during the holocaust. Those running clocks on the arm can have many interpretations; and they're more than skin-deep...

The analogies of the banking/financial institutions raping the world's people of their money (or in this case, the haves stealing time from the have-nots) and then screwing them over (in this case, literally killing people) are pretty much on-the-nose and accurate in today's hard, brutal economic crisis (anyone who votes against raising taxes on the wealthiest one percent will probably not like this movie; it's 'sharing the wealth' message is pretty much the anthem of the Occupy movement). This is a movie that definitely has a political bent; make no mistake (but then again; most of the best scifi/fantasy movies and books do, right?).

The performances in the movie are solid; including Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Sunshine, 28 Days Later) as a relentless cop (or "timekeeper" as they are in the movie) named Raymond Leon who relentlessly pursues Justin Timberlake's Will Salas character after he is 'given' a wealthy, but suicidal centenarian's remaining life span. Leon suspects Will 'stole' the man's remaining life (or 'cleaned his clock' as they say in the movie's parlance). Perhaps another inspiration for the movie would be Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables", with Leon as Javer to Salas' Valjean (a relentless pursuer of a man from whom he should've just walked away; as his quest later destroys him). Salas has learned a brutal, life-changing lesson of the harsh injustice of the temporal currency system from an ill-timed tragedy involving his own mother (played by actress Olivia Wilde; who, reinforcing the movie's point, looks younger than her movie 'son' Timberlake), which later fuels his anger in his Don Quixote-like quest to fight the system itself from within.

Along the way, Salas (in a desperate act of self-preservation) kidnaps a wealthy heiress' daughter, Sylvia Weis (played by almost otherworldly-beautiful Amanda Seyfried) and opens her eyes a bit to the plight of the short-lived underclass (like "Lady and the Tramp" with guns; hee hee...). Her eventual trust of Salas is based in part by her initial attraction to him (in another "Gattaca" nod, she and Will share an earlier nighttime skinny-dip together; sorry nudie fans... you don't really see much, either). Her 100+ yr old father Phillippe Weis (Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser), is the epitome of the unfeeling, out-of-touch upper class in this movie, especially unnerving as he and his daughter look more like siblings; as do his wife and mother-in-law (choosing Mad Men's resident social-climbing stuffed shirt "Pete Campbell" was inspired casting; no one plays a snake like Kartheiser). His eventual refusal to pay his daughter's temporal ransom of a million years (which Will wishes to distribute to a downtown 'time' mission house to help the literally dying poor) is the last straw in alienating him from his rebellious, almost Patty Hearst-like offspring. At this point, her and Will are Robin Hood and Maid Marion on the run in a perverse, Logan's Run-like Sherwood Forest of concrete and glass...

One of the things that intrigued me the most about this movie is that it presents a world economic scenario (time as literal money) that, while cruel and draconian on the surface, is really not all that different from the current global currencies used today (euros, dollars, pounds, what have you). It makes you really think about our current economic modus operandi. The rich get the best schools, the best healthcare (at least in the United States), the most opportunities... the best chances at a full, luxuriant life. The poor can sometimes get a lucky break here and there (if they possess the right skills/talents at the right time), but by and large, they eat worse food (cheaper food is usually much higher in calories, fat and salt), can't afford college usually and are relegated to simply continuing their standard of existence. Whether basing currency on cash or time, I fail to see a significant difference between economic models. This movie can definitely inspire debate on that issue, that's for certain (pro or con, I feel that debate after a movie like this is a healthy thing ... it's part of the fun of letting a challenging movie tickle the ivory keys of your brain).

Plot-wise the film is, as mentioned earlier, "Logan's Run" meets "Robin Hood" but driven through a "Gattaca" car wash. But the allegory (none-too-subtle, I admit; jack-hammerish at times) as well as the depth and layering of the film resonate long after you've seen it. It's one thing to not drop an affordable dollar in the charity collection jar at work, it's quite another to tell starving child or a homeless veteran to f**k off to their face. Put these kinds of issues through a scifi lens and they become academic exercises that examine social ills in a broader context. This is what good science fiction does best; it can hold a polished mirror up to our own world and ask those hard questions we sometimes fear to answer ourselves...

I give "In Time" a solid 9 out of 10; a worthy successor to Andrew Niccol's earlier, brilliant "Gattaca."
It might've rated a 10 from me if it's political/economic allegory had been just a tad more subtle (then again, we don't really live in subtle times, do we?).

6 Comments On This Entry

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ensign edwards Icon

14 November 2011 - 12:26 PM
I may check this out when it comes out on video, but based on what I've seen (from trailers and what I've read here), there are a lot of things about it that leave me doubtful. While I'm all for allegorical sci-fi, the message to this movie seems horribly ham-fisted, even to my over-simplified, Warcraft-fed brain. Plus, the Robin Hood bent seems awfully predictable, and I don't think I'm ever gonna be able to view Justin Timberlake as anyone but Justin Timberlake.

I do applaud the world the movie seems to have created, though. Looks well-thought out.

obsolete toaster Icon

14 November 2011 - 10:09 PM
It is a bit heavy on the "Occupy/99% movement" allegory (even though "In Time" actually preceded it, ironically), but I liked it very much anyway. Again, one's personal politics will very much determine how much they enjoy this movie or not; make no bones about it. This is a heavily political scifi film with a definite point of view; like it or not (as was "Atlas Shrugged Part 1" which I made the mistake of seeing last August; I'm NOT an Ayn Rand fan at ALL...). The universe "In Time" creates is intriguingly familiar, but Twilight-Zone-ish enough to allow enough wiggle room for anachronistic differences (like vintage Dodge Challengers as electric motored police cars and public pay phones; which are rapidly disappearing already... I doubt there'll be ANY left in the future). It's almost Bradbury-like that way (as was Gattaca).

It's always refreshing for me to see a scifi movie rooted in ideas and the human fallout from those ideas rather than just spaceships, robots and noise (which have their time and place as well, but one needs variety in one's scifi diet now and then...).

ensign edwards Icon

16 November 2011 - 02:43 PM
I like the idea of a more intelligent sci-fi film, and I agree with the political stance it takes. I'm just worried it might be a bit too preachy to make an enjoyable viewing experience.

Nanouk Icon

21 November 2011 - 04:06 PM
Unfortunately I disagree with OT.
I found the acting rather poor. The story empty and the characters and their actions plane stupid (who pays off a debt and then cant affort the bus and die .. WTF).
Nope only Amanda Seyfrieds boobs were a moment of happiness in this movie. I was with friends thats the only reason I finished watching it. This is a movie that TRIES to be something, but ends up being pulp...

obsolete toaster Icon

22 January 2012 - 03:04 PM
Oh well, can't please everyone I suppose. :(
I really enjoyed this one, although I suppose it did get pretty preachy at times (personally, I think we live in times that kind of call for blunt force messages....)

But at least Amanda Seyfried's boobs kept you awake, right? :lol:

Captain Taurus Icon

27 February 2012 - 02:02 AM
9 out 10...totally for me it was just a little to slow in some parts but aside from that, it was flawless. My only complaint about the movie was that it wasted some valuable time dragging some scenes out rather than developing the characters and taking us deeper into the hole as it were. I love it! It was a great story; sad in some parts such as his mom and best friend dying. Tragic, but true to the times as it were.

I loved your review of it. You nailed many points and discussed it intelligently. Thank you!
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