Friday 8 February 2013

Film: In Time (2011)

In Time has a classic SF plot by writer/director Andrew Niccol, set a century and a half into a dystopian future in which everyone stops ageing when they reach 25 and can potentially live forever. The catch is that the universal currency is not money but the minutes and hours of people's lives, known as "living time". Everyone has a clock/calendar built into their forearms which counts down in real time, and from which extra time is deducted whenever they purchase anything or transfer time to someone else; they can similarly add time by earning (or stealing) it. Run out of "living time" and you drop dead on the spot. Most people struggle to earn enough time to continue living day by day, especially as prices are kept rising (and wages falling) by the controlling class of super-rich, who genuinely can live forever - as long as they do nothing stupid. They live in luxurious secure zones which cost months of living time just to enter. The following review contains some minor spoilers.

Will Salas (well portrayed by Justin Timberlake, someone who's name is very familiar but whom I can't recall ever having seen before) is one of the poor, constantly at risk of running out of living time but a man of principle who shares out what he has among his friends. He helps a member of the rich who gets into trouble while slumming down-town, and finds himself with more living time than he has ever dreamed of. The questions are; what will he do with it, and can he avoid the attentions of local gang leader Fortis (Alex Pettyfer) and police "Timekeeper" Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy)?

Salas uses his new wealth to head uptown where he meets Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) who is immediately attracted to the dangerous and exciting Salas. But what future can they find in the face of the powerful forces opposed to them, and can they do anything to mitigate the unfairness of the stratified society?

This film has echoes of others, most obviously Logan's Run in which everyone dies at the age of 30, but In Time has a darker and more adult feel, more reminiscent of Bladerunner and especially Gattaca. It isn't as good as those two, but it's still one of the better recent SF movies and well worth watching.

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