Directed by: Andrew Niccol.
Written by: Andrew Niccol.
Starring: Justin Timberlake (Will Salas), Amanda Seyfried (Sylvia Weis), Cillian Murphy (Raymond Leon), Vincent Kartheiser (Philippe Weis), Olivia Wilde (Rachel Salas), Johnny Galecki (Borel), Alex Pettyfer (Fortis), Matt Bomer (Henry Hamilton).
I know I’m not the first person to say this, but I have always thought that if you’re remake a movie, you probably shouldn’t remake a classic, that was perfect to begin with, but rather a movie that had promise that for whatever reason just didn’t work the first time around. If studios would do that, I would suggest that someone remake In Time, because the idea behind the movie is brilliant, but the execution of that idea just isn’t up to the idea itself. The idea of currency literally being replaced by time – so that the rich can live forever, where the poor literally live day to day, under the constant threat of death. This near future, science fiction film could not possibly be timelier. And yet, In Time never quite figures out what to do with this premise – and instead of crafting an intelligent film, it devolves into action movie clichés. Too bad, because this movie had the potential to be great.
The film stars Justin Timberlake as Will Salas, a poor factory worker who has to go to work every day just to earn enough time to get back to work the next day. In this future, everyone has been genetically engineered to stop aging at the age of 25 – until then, you’re clock doesn’t wind down at all. When you hit 25, you get one year of time. The poor need to use this time to pay off their parents debts, so that shortly after they hit 25, they are living day to day. The rich can pass their time down to their kids, so that they can live forever. Everyone is split into certain districts, based on their time remaining – and it costs so much to move between zones, that no one ever does it. But one day Will meets a rich man in a bar – with over a century of time on his arm (which is where your countdown clock is located). Will saves him from some people who want to steal that time from him. To pay him back, the rich man gives Will all his time – killing himself. Will, angry at the system (which had just allowed his mother to die), decides to travel to the richest district to get revenge.
There are great ideas running through In Time – at least beneath the surface. Will quickly draws the attention of the timekeepers (led by Cillian Murphy`s Raymond Leon), who track him down quickly. But by then, Will has connected with Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of the richest man in the world. Sylvia essentially becomes his Patty Hearst – first a hostage Will uses to get away from the timekeepers, but soon joins Will in trying to bring down the system.
Andrew Niccol is a talented writer and director. His Gattaca was one of the best science fiction films of the 1990s, and his Lord of War was a grossly under rated, very entertaining film about an amoral arms dealer, who wins. In Time is more like his Simone, which was also a film with a brilliant premise – a Hollywood director (Al Pacino) who creates a virtual actress so he doesn’t have to deal with the ego of other actresses, only to find the virtual star becomes a huge celebrity that overshadows him. That film aimed to mock our celebrity obsessed cultures, and although that target should be easy, Simone missed the mark. In Time is like that as well. In a year where the Occupy Wall Street Movement made headlines, and the chasm between the rich and the poor grew wider and wider, a movie like In Time should have easily tapped into that anger. But instead, In Time devolves into an action movie – with bank heists, shootouts and car chases galore, that takes center stage and pushes the ideas into the background. Too bad, because the idea at the heart off In Time deserves a better movie.