Friday, October 28, 2011


In Time

In Time You must have heard the phrase "time is money." However, I bet you have never really seen how time is literally used as a currency in a society, unless you witness the transactions of time in writer/director Andrew Niccol's sci-fi thriller "In Time" (USA 2011 | 109 min.). Despite many obvious flaws, this is a captivating film that presents a mind-boggling scenario which marvelously echoes the sentiment of the current occupy Wall Street movement about the inequality in wealth distribution.

Through genetic engineering, a clock on the left (never the right) arm starts to tick when one turns to 25 year old—everybody has one more year to live, unless you are rich to buy more time. A welcome side effect is that nobody ages after 25. Everybody dies while looking young, and no botox treatment is ever needed.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) earns his "time" day by day for three years after he turns 25 and lives with his mom Rachel (Olivia Wilde) in a working class "zone." In this ghetto looking zone, everyone is rushing against the ticking clock. After his mom's dramatic death, Will is given a century from a 105-year-old guy, who no longer wants to live, leaving him an advice—"Don't waste my time." Will does not. He spends a year—that is the toll charges—to travel to a zone where the rich lives "slowly."

In this rich zone, Will meets time magnate Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) who spends all her life "trying not to die by mistake," because they can literally live forever otherwise. Will is accused of stealing time and hunted by the chief timekeeper (aka policeman) Leon (Cillian Murphy), Will snatches Sylvia and escapes back to the ghetto zone, and acts like (Robin Hood) dispersing Weis family's time to everyone.

Justin Timberlake in In Time

The film is fascinating in displaying an intriguing world using time as a commodity and the only currency. Under such setting, many catchy phrases have a more literal sense. For instance, a sign "Out of Time" lights up at a loan office that lends time with interest. People can exchange, give, take, share, rob, seize, lend, borrow, and certainly waste time.

However, the film never really explains how the exact amount of time is transferred by simply touching each other's hands—they announce the amount, and magically the transaction takes place from one party to another. If all it takes is to touch each other's hand, how come time does not flow to the opposite direction as one announces it? Of course, you never see a person who loses a left arm in the film—there will not have any clock.

The film is also unnecessarily contains subplots such as the mob of gangsters. They simply distract the main story line.

Those are just the minor flaws of the film. The biggest problem is that there is hardly any chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. Yet, their characters manage to skinny-dip together just a few minutes after they meet for the first time. It is even more preposterous that Amanda Seyfried's character Sylvia jumps in the 99% camp quickly and turns her back to her father, who is definitely belongs to the 1%. Perhaps the folks occupying city plazas should take a hint and start to search for their Sylvia instead of protesting.

That being said, this is still an entertaining film with refreshing and thought provoking concepts. However, it does not mention the foreign exchange rate for time between countries though, probably because we all know China has too many people living there already.

"In Time," a 20th Century Fox release, opens on Friday, October 28, 2011 at Bay Area theaters.

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