In Time: Live Forever or Die Trying (2011)

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Times have changed and so has the concept of life. Genetic engineering has created a reality where time is money. With aging ending when a person reaches 25, the span of their life is determined by their ability to keep their clocks running. To this end, Will Salas and his mother, Rachel, live a modest life, earning time to live day by day. One night, Will saves the life of a man, Henry Hamilton, who has an abundance of time. In return, Henry explains the issues with the current state of the world and his understanding of the value of life and death. The next morning, Henry secretly transfers his time to Will and chooses to end his life. Will chooses to meet up with his mother for her birthday but she runs out of time just before their embrace. Devastated by the trauma, he decides to find a way to spend the time wisely and bring more back to the ghetto. Hot on his tail is Timekeeper Raymond Leon, who is determined to get the time back to where it belongs.

Starring: Justine Timberlake (Will Salas), Olivia Wilde (Rachel Salas), Cillian Murphy (Raymond Leon), Amanda Seyfried (Sylvia Weis), Shyloh Ootswald (Maya), Michael William Freeman (Nardin), Alex Pettyfer (Fortis), Vincent Kartheiser (Philippe Weis), Bella Heathcote (Michele Weis)

This sci-fi thriller takes a new look at the concept of an economy and immerses the characters in a world of living by the minute. Justin Timberlake takes center stage. His character is one of desperation and determination, both qualities coming out through his quick thinking and semi-reckless behavior. His mother, played by Olivia Wilde, tries to live humbly but also represents the attitude of many of the people living in the ghetto, in denial of their lowly fate. Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Philippe Weis, represents all of the stinginess and greed representative of some real world issues of distribution of wealth. He appears to value the time system and his own wealth of time more than people, including his rebellious daughter played by Amanda Seyfried. For Seyfried, she represents someone who was born into wealth, envied reckless ways and has to learn to adapt to the lifestyle similar to Timberlake. Her character is the most conflicted because of the comparison of her life experience with the hostage situation with Timberlake’s character. Slightly more compelling was Cillian Murphy as Raymond Leon. Though his character seemed focused and one-minded, there was a different sort of depth that sets the viewer up to want to learn more.

Andrew Niccol directs this rather interesting take on the current wealth distribution but in the form of time as currency. People have been divided into zones based on their levels of wealth of time. Will, having grown up in Zone 14, has always lived a life of limited means. When his clock started, him and his mother needed the time to pay off the loans, dropping their existence to a day to day style. Working in a factory, his earned time was dictated by the factory’s production. It is not until later that Will learns the significance of the system that has been set into motion. “For a few to be immortal, many must die.” These words are spoken both by Henry Hamilton and Philippe Weis. Will comes to understand that the wealthy are able to live forever because of the way the system distributes wealth and keeps the poor from having any real chance to improve their status. When Will finds his back against the wall, he summons enough courage to fight for a chance to not only improve his own situation but serve as a Robin Hood-like character for the lower sectors.

The spirit of the film is both one that represents the thriller concept and projects real-world economic issues. Currently, there is a lot of conversation about the 99% and the 1%. Weis and the rest of the upper crust in this film represent that 1%, or the immortals that do not mind if the lower class dies off. The concept of the preservation of life is taken to more of an extreme, with the ghettos being a place where people die not only of violence and an inability to take care of themselves but also do to the stinginess of the economic system. Will role as the ghetto Robin Hood has elements of socialism, which could scare many people.

Besides the political message of the film, the presentation is rather interesting. Though not necessarily set too far into the future, the technology and lifestyle seems to be set in a mostly realistic environment. The only element that is less believable is the genetic engineering piece with people’s biological clocks. With the story, the setting is explained at the start of the film, but some of the story elements get only a small moment of attention or virtually none at all. While Will introduces his father’s survival technique in the time game, his father’s story only has passing mentions and never gets fully explained. Raymond’s situation is eluded to in a conversation regarding his rise from the ghetto, but it is rushed and unfinished.

The concept of this film is actually really interesting and intriguing but there are a number of issues with the depth of the storytelling and it leaves the viewer wanting a little more.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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