In Time is a 2011 sci-fi thriller directed by Andrew Niccol. The lead pair is played by Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. “In Time” was not the first choice for the title though but it won over “Now” and “I’m Mortal“.
|Andrew Niccol, Marc Abraham, Amy Israel, Kristel Laiblin, Eric Newman
|Regency Enterprises, New Regency Productions, Strike Entertainment
|Twentieth Century Fox
|28 October 2011
|Justin Timberlake (William “Will” Salas), Amanda Seyfried (Sylvia Weis), Cillian Murphy (Raymond “Ray” Leon – Timekeeper), Alex Pettyfer (Fortis), Vincent Kartheiser (Philippe “Phillip” Weis), Olivia Wilde (Rachel Salas), Matt Bomer (Henry “Hank” Hamilton), Johnny Galecki (Borel), Collins Pennie (Jaeger – Timekeeper), Ethan Peck (Constantin), Yaya DaCosta (Greta – Borel’s wife), Rachel Roberts (Carrera), August Emerson (Levi), Sasha Pivovarova (Clara), Jesse Lee Soffer (Webb), Bella Heathcote (Michele Weis), Toby Hemingway (Kors – Timekeeper), Melissa Ordway (Leila), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Edouarda), Christoph Sanders (Nixon), Jeff Staron (Oris), Matt O’Leary (Moser), Nick Lashaway (Ekman), Ray Santiago (Victa), Kris Lemche (Markus), and others…
It is 2169 and human race have found a solution of population control on Earth in form of genetically engineered babies. Humans are now born with a 13 digit stopwatch on their left arms and limited life span of 25 years. When a person turns 25, he/she freezes in time, stops aging and the clock starts ticking down with a limited time of one year. Now, there are two options: either they time-out and die or they continue living as long as they can buy time. Yes, time is the currency of this age. The wages are paid in time and everything is charged in time. Time can be transferred from one person to another and the time-keepers keep track of any illegal trading of time. This also means that the wealthy are practically immortal.
We meet Will Salas who lives in one of the lowly time-zones called Dayton, more like a ghetto, where every second of his life needs to be earned. He and his beautiful mother have frozen in time at the age of twenty-five and they can continue living as long as there is balance on the ticking clock. They are struggling on, like everyone else around them, surviving one day after another. The area is rife with goons who steal time from victims, and dead bodies, since the rulers keep increasing living costs continuously, thus causing people to time-out.
Will’s life changes when one night he meets Henry Hamilton at the local bar. Henry is flaunting the century on his clock and Will saves him from the local don. Henry then informs Will that he came to Dayton intentionally seeking death because he is tired of living. Henry reveals that the rich people in time zone of New Greenwich have hoarded so much time that if released it should be enough for entire population of Earth. He transfers his time to Will while the later is asleep and then commits a suicide. Timekeeper Raynold Leon starts investigating Henry Hamilton’s death and assumes that Will stole his time and then killed him.
Will happily gives away ten years to his best friend Borel and then proceeds to meet his mother. Unfortunately, she times out in his arms. Will now decides to go to New Greenwich. He is conspicuous in this posh time zone but manages to win 1100 years in a game of poker from Philippe Weiss, a financial emperor. Raynold tracks him here and cancels all his time leaving him only two hours to get back to Dayton. But Will captures Phillippe’s daughter Sylvia and escapes. They arrive to Dayton surviving a few attacks and start living on their feet. Will demands that Weiss release a 1000 years in Dayton in return for Sylvia but Weiss refuses. Will releases Sylvia but she accidentally shoots Raynold and decides to stay with Will. They team up and start robbing Weiss’s time banks.
To make a real difference, they decide to do a major robbery and steal Weiss’s vault that has one million years. After lots of chasing and stunts, they succeed but what will they do with the time? Will the time change the lives of Dayton citizens for ever or will they just waste it?
The story is typically a mirror of any thriller the only variation being money replaced with time. It is the same oppression of poor by rich, a brave protagonist who wants to change the world and his journey to find the real self. The more interesting note that could have been pursued further in the movie is that of immortality. Do we really want to be immortals? The main problem normally perceived with immortality is aging, but once you stopped aging, do you still want to live forever? Frozen in time, with the same face in mirror every day, scared to death of dying? Doesn’t one reach a moment when one wants to stop? The movie gives a few seconds to Henry Hamilton’s character who is going through this phase, but does not explore this thread any further. The cinematography is slick and the special effects are nice…
- Though interesting, the idea of the film is hardly original and it landed in first controversy when fiction writer Harlan Ellison claimed that the script was based on his 1965 short story “Repent, Harleyquin! Said the Ticktockman”. The story features an age when people have limited life span.
- The film also brings to mind another short story called “Time is Money” by Lee Falk, who created Mandrake the magician. That story was based in a society where time is the currency and people die when they run out of time. It also featured timekeepers, time transactions, no aging and class differences as shown in the movie.
- The movie was also heralded as an unofficial remake of 1987 short film “The Price of Life” that featured almost identical society in which the hero starts a similar journey to save his mother.
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