Time is the new currency
Everyone in this world is engineered to stop aging at 25, but “times out” one year later unless they can beg, borrow or steal more time. This embroils most in a struggle to survive. Everyone’s left forearm shows exactly how much they have left in glowing, green numbers.
Will Salas (Timberlake) is the upstart who knows that the system is unjust. Meanwhile he works in a blue collar town, sharing what he has with desperate friends and family. Will manages to reach age 28. His mother (Olivia Wilde in a heartfelt, brief appearance) looks as young as her son.
Casting perfect in futuristic flick
When a weary elder Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) gives Will a century before he commits suicide, Will escapes to wealthy New Greenwich. There he meets lovely Sylvia (Seyfried), daughter of powerful banker Philippe Weis (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser).
Casting by Denise Chamian is perfect throughout. Timberlake (The Social Network) and Seyfried (Mamma Mia!; Red Riding Hood) are coolly effective, stylish and low key, yet hampered by a script that dwells on time alone.
Gambling for time
Will beats Weis in high stakes poker at a casino. Weis is philosophical about his higher station in life. “Hasn’t evolution always been unfair? It’s always been survival of the fittest,” he opines.
Kartheiser is smooth as a wily yet sentimental fool of a father. When Sylvia is “kidnapped,” it’s unclear whether Weis will pay the ransom for his own daughter.
Heroic couple on the run
In Time rivals The Adjustment Bureau for acting and chase scenes. It suffers from a similar lack of depth. Niccol, who wrote the script, doesn’t take you very far into a bold future.
Will nabs Sylvia to protect himself, because the Timekeepers (hip detectives) suspect him of killing Hamilton. The young upstarts begin to fall in love.
More originality was shown in Duncan Jones’ Source Code, and in Vincenzo Natali’s arch science fiction sleeper Splice.
“Is it stealing if it’s already stolen?”
“How can you live with yourself watching people die right next to you?” Will asks Sylvia. “You don’t watch,” she replies. “You close your eyes.”
The two race around posh New Greenwich in a futuristic sports car. They rob her daddy’s banks and distribute time to people who need it.
Timekeepers give chase
Cillian Murphy (Inception) plays the relentless yet complex Raymond Leon. Charged with keeping the social order, Leon pursues Will. When Leon’s true roots are revealed, he replies, “I’m a Timekeeper. I don’t concern myself with justice.”
The Minute Men (led by Alex Pettyfer) are scruffy muggers who rob time from others. They too keep ambitious citizens from owning too much time. Existence continues.
“The truth is, there’s more than enough”
Running out of time (and life) is a set up, Will discovers. It’s up to you to imagine what wealth for all looks like. (3 out of 5 stars)
In Time / 2011 / PG-13 / 1 hour, 50 min
Cast Overview: Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Johnny Galecki, Collins Pennie, Toby Hemingway, Brendan Miller, Yaya DaCosta, Alex Pettyfer
Director: Andrew Niccol
Genres: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller