Almost not worth the time
Todd Miller | Collegio Writer
“In Time” wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, but it was no shining gem, either.
One thing it had going for it was the interesting concept that “time is money.” The filmmakers took that concept, stuck to their rules, and ran it all the way through.
“In Time” takes place in the future, though it’s unnoticeable other than the cars sounding weird and the whole basis of time being money. Essentially, humans have been genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. However, once they reach 25 they have only one more year to live unless they can earn (or steal) more time. The rich tend to live forever and the poor die quickly.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a poor man who lives in a time zone (the movie is full of puns) that is referred to as “the ghetto.” He lives and works day-by-day (what’d I tell you?). One night, a man with more than a century on his arm comes to the ghetto. Flashing that kind of time around garners the attention of the “Minute Men,” a gang that kills people by stealing their time. Salas saves the man from the gangsters, and while they’re hiding, the man tells Salas that he wants to die, giving Salas all his time while he’s asleep.
To this point the movie was pretty reasonable. However, the thought that keeps flashing through my mind is, “Who thought this was a good replacement for money?” Money can be saved, held and used gingerly. Time is constantly ticking down and is spent just as constantly. Four minutes were expensive for a cup of coffee, but you’d use near that just waiting for it. So, it’s a cool concept, but makes little sense.
Anyway, once Salas has all this time, he decides to go to the richest part of the city (possibly a city. I can’t tell if they’re always in the same city or several) in order to get even with the rich. Instead, he spends his time gambling and acting like a rich person; things have to change before he actually has some kind of plan to exact revenge.
This takes the form of Raymond León (Cillian Murphy), a Time Keeper (Time Keepers seem to be a combo of the FBI and police force). Salas is suspected of having stolen the time he has. When they find him, they attempt to arrest him.
Salas escapes and takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of a rich businessman, hostage.
Salas takes Weis with him back to the ghetto. As a ransom, Salas wants Weis’ father to distribute 1,000 years among the people of the ghetto. When Weis’ father fails to give up the time, she begins to realize exactly what kind of man he is and sides with Salas.
Interestingly, even though Salas has made a point of explaining that he is not a thief, he and Weis spend the rest of the movie stealing time – ruining his prospect of retribution. It is interesting to realize, this far into the film, that the heroes are actually the antagonists, something I like about the film. Salas is warned throughout the film how bad it is to give massive amounts of time to the ghetto, but sets out for chaos regardless. The film would have been old from the opposite perspective with Salas as the bad guy and Weis’ father as the protagonist.
There is the intrinsic problem, though, of everybody needing to be 25 years old. It works for some characters, but not others like León, since Murphy is 35 years old, and it shows in the film.
There seems to have been little thought toward the exact worth of time. As I said, four minutes was expensive for a cup of coffee, but bus fare was an hour. A fancy meal was a week and a half, and a fancy new car was 50 years. It just seems like the larger the quantities of time get, the less they’re worth in bulk. A little math from the writers would have made it seem more realistic.
I won’t discourage you from seeing this movie. The ending is a bit disappointing, but the ride there is good. I’d recommend seeing it if you have the time.