Film Review: In Time
In Time (2011) is set in the year 2169, and people are walking the earth who are hundreds of years old, but nobody looks a day over 25. The Sci-Fi action film is exciting, intriguing and despite being quite futuristic, is still relatable in a number of ways, making it hard to look away. Time is the currency in the film; it must be earned, used to buy things, can be transferred and can be stolen. It can also lead to instant death if people time out, and they are constantly reminded how much time they have left by the digital clocks displayed on their arm, and whilst the wealthy display centuries, others often have just hours.
The movie, directed and produced by Andrew Niccol, follows Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), on his journey to steal time from Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), a wealthy banker who controls the supply of time to all of the Time Zones. Will captured Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), Philippe’s daughter, and after a failed attempt at using her for ransom, they fall in love and start working together. Sylvia never understood the devastation her father was causing until she too was reduced to minutes left of her life when her time was taken by the thieves referred to as Minute Men.
With the Timekeeper (police) Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), chasing them through the Time Zones, the pair manage to stay alive, sometimes with just seconds left on their clock, until they break into Philippe’s house and steal 1 million years from his vault. They release the time in Dayton, the ghetto where Will is from, and as thousands of people begin to cross the borders, entering different Time Zones, the market crashes and the film ends with the fugitives entering another bank to rob.
Although it was an extreme way of portraying it, the film provoked the idea that, even in today’s society, time is the true currency. Running out of time is the only part of life that is guaranteed, and should, therefore, be considered the most valuable resource. The wealthy characters in the film represent the wealthy people in life, earning more money than they will ever be able to spend, whilst other people in other countries are struggling just to earn enough to live. Additionally, many people live their lives to earn money, they continue to work just to get ahead, all while wasting the precious time they have, with the difference being, people today don’t know how long they have left, so shouldn’t they be more conscious of time?
The message of inequality throughout the film is strong, as the Time Zones keep the various classes of people separated, with borders and checkpoints between them to maintain the segregation, and with the wealthy controlling the cost of living through tax’s, it was easy for them to collect more time whilst forcing others further into poverty. This idea can be likened to the current COVID-19 crisis and the recent bushfire crisis, and how the wealthy population feel the little impact, while those already struggling are forced further into poverty. Additionally, when panic buying began, it was the people who lived paycheck to paycheck who couldn’t afford to stock up on items, and those who could were buying up all of the resources, similar to collecting all of the time.
“For a few to be immortal, many must die.”
Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), was 105 years old and had a century left on his clock. Will saved Henry from the Minute Men, but Henry didn’t want to be saved, he had lived enough, so he gave Will all of his time and timed himself out. The character of Henry represented the idea that even the most wealthy of people have problems, and that wealth doesn’t buy happiness. Before dying, he introduced Will to the idea that the wealthy are willingly killing people in order to become immortal.
Although the film was extreme in portraying the link between the wealthy getting richer and the poor dying, the messages and themes throughout are relatable to life as we know it. Both Will and Sylvia came from very different worlds, but neither of them felt like they had choices in life, people from each zone had their struggles to deal with, and until they were forced to, none of them understood anyone else’s pain.
Despite knowing that death is inevitable, and we know our time will run out, many people continue to work day to do, to accumulate wealth, taking for granted the time that they or their loved ones have left.