In Time

"His crime wasn't stealing time. It was giving it away."

Hello all, Welcome to Saturday at The Tagline! I've been hitting my movie backlog so hard lately that for the past few weeks I've felt compelled to do 3 reviews rather than a special Saturday post. Today I will talk about In Time, a Dystopian Sci-fi film starring Justin Timberlake (of smashing N'Sync fame) as Will Salas, a poor guy who becomes a rich guy, and then almost becomes a dead guy. The movie premise is a such: In the future, people stop aging at 25, but after that have only a year to live. In addition to being used to indefinitely prolong life, time is also currency in this future, and so the very wealthy are effectively immortal, never aging and never dying. In stark contrast, the poor live literally from day to day, dying in the streets as they bottom out. One day Will meets a rich guy who is sick of living, and gives him 100 years worth of life before dropping dead off a bridge. Will, after losing his mother (played by Olivia Wilde, who in real life is actually four years younger than Timberlake) by being seconds too late to share the wealth, decides he's going to "stick it to the man" as it were, and goes on a vague warpath that eventually entangles Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried, of Mean Girls fame) the daughter of perhaps the wealthiest man alive. 

Ahahaha, this is just like being in Mad Men, only I'm
even richer!
So what exactly is TimTim getting up to? Well Will kidnaps Sylvia to escape the time keepers (the police who enforce the time system that keeps the rich immortal and the poor dead) and during their getaway They are robbed, and Sylvia finds herself brushing up against death herself. This gives her a new perspective on life and the system, and after her father refuses to pay her ransom and she shoots a cop, she becomes a willing accomplice to Will's newfound illicit activities. He and Sylvia go on the time currency-future equivalent of a bank robbing spree (they are literally robbing time banks) Robbing the holdings of Sylvia's father and then giving them away to the poor. Ideally their goal seems to be to flood the time market so badly that the whole system collapses, because as they remark "No one should live forever."

Creepiest moment in the movie: Sylvia's grandmother,
mother, and Sylvia herself, from left to right.
Well that's all well and good, and the idea of time as currency is certainly an interesting concept. As a dystopian setting you have a lot to work with there. The problem there is that the premise is the last novel or insightful thought anyone involved in this movie's creation seemed to have. So Will's mom dies as a result of a rigged system, and he wants to get even. Sounds good, I buy that. The problem is, His actions, and Sylvia's don't really seem to be much of a resolution to anything. If they break the system, won't everyone just die from things like starvation? Won't the market inflate so much that they'll all just die anyway trying to buy a hot dog? Even if the whole system were supplanted (and that doesn't seem likely) there would be a host of brand new problems supplanting the current ones. Better yet, is this system a world wide institution? What is the whole world like in this setting? I'm ultimately left at the end of this ride with a ton of questions, and basically no answers, except that future Bonnie and Clyde are going to rob them some banks. 

Who am I really? Guess we'll never know (I'm Scarecrow)
There is also the suggestion that Will's father was killed for trying to upset the system, but you never get that whole story either. Some secondary characters also show signs of hidden depth, such as the timekeeper who dogs Will and Sylvia, Raymond (Cillian Murphy, perhaps best known for portraying Scarecrow in the Chris Nolan Batman movies). We find out he used to be poor, he knew Will's dad, now he enforces the system, but that's as far as it ever goes. This movie stubbornly refuses to answer a single question you have about it. Instead it left me wondering if I'd really seen anything happen at all. At the end of the movie, the world has ultimately not changed much. The system has been possibly destabilized, but you have no real idea of what the consequences are. The movie ends up being all cause and no effect. To say then that the plot is muddled is probably being too generous. I'd have to have an idea of where the story was trying to go before I could really claim it was muddled. It's a shame, because the movie has a really interesting premise, and the cast in place that could sell it, if only they had a direction to go in.

Cry me a river baby.
Generally speaking, Critics said very similar things about this movie. It's a neat idea that goes nowhere, and that is regrettably the end of the story. The movie grossed weak in domestic markets, but strongly elsewhere, and finished its box office run grossing over 173 million dollars against a 40 million dollar budget, saving it from being a legitimate disaster. This movie felt like a real missed opportunity, and that made me kind of sad. Better luck next time JTim.

I'll see you all Tuesday for yet ANOTHER movie review! Hopefully this next one will disappoint me less. I'm going to go listen to some N'Sync now...

Not really.

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