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Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Time



"Don't Waste My Time."

In Time posits a bizarre alternate reality/future where human beings are now genetically engineered to live only 25 years. Once they hit 25, they are given one more year of life but must now work, bargain or steal for additional seconds, minutes, hours, years to prolong their lives, to infinity if they can. Time appears as glowing green digital readouts on each person's wrists; every human in In Time is genetically engineered with an LED nightlight. The wealthy possess seemingly unlimited time and are essentially immortal, as long as they "don't do anything foolish" and die by violent means. The poor in the "ghettos" are left scrambling day in and day out for borrowed time. There is no more money; the only currency is time. Taking a ten minute bus ride can cost hours, staying in one night in a high class hotel costs two months. (Two months for one night? That's a crap deal.) In Time's stylized world of attractive 25 year olds who press wrist flesh to trade time with each other is a weird sci-fi bent that's never truly convincing.

Scrambling for as much time as he can in the ghetto is Justin Timberlake, who one day meets a suicidal Matt Bomer from White Collar in a bar. Bomer gives him a hundred years and "times himself out". Timberlake immediately suffers a tragedy when he's unable to reach his hot mom Olivia Wilde (talk about a MILF) before she times out on her birthday. In his grief, Timberlake uses the time given to him to live it up in the rich part of town, "New Greenwich", where he lives out his James Bond fantasies of staying in luxury suites, gambling in casinos while wearing a tuxedo, and getting invited to the palatial home of the villain, Vincent Kartheiser of Mad Men. Kartheiser, much older than he looks, seems to control all the time in the world. Of course, Kartheiser has a hot, rebellious daughter, Amanda Seyfried. Of course, Seyfried is conveniently the same age as Timberlake, both actually in their mid-20s. And of course, Seyfried falls for Timberlake, after he kidnaps her and hides her in the ghetto when he's discovered by Cillian Murphy, a timekeeper who hunts down those who commit time crimes. 

Once on the lam, Seyfried gets her huge eyes full of the injustices her father's corporation perpetrates, keeping the poor people constantly desperate for time, lining up for "time loans". Meanwhile, they're chased not just by Murphy and his time cops but by swaggering dandy time bandit Alex Pettyfer from I Am Number Four, the local crime lord. Timberlake and Seyfried decide to become the Bonnie and Clyde of time, breaking into her father's local time banks to steal time, and then give the time to the poor. Finally, Timberlake and Seyfried decide to take down the biggest time vault of all and head back to New Greenwich to steal a million years from Kartheiser. Kartheiser argues that giving a million people in the ghetto a year each won't make much difference, and you know what? He's right. But by this point in time, In Time is in it too deep as a goofy action movie to bend to any rational logic.

Besides swiping ideas freely from The MatrixBonnie and Clyde, Robin Hood, and Metropolis, In Time even riffs from Over The Top; there's a form of "prize fighting" involving clasping wrists to take each other's time, and the one who bends his wrist over the top gets all the time the other has. Timberlake's dead father was a "time fighter". Wait, people pay time to watch these "fights"? It has all the dramatic tension of a really awkward handshake. In Time also cheats with how much time Timberlake and Seyfried actually have; at first the audience is seemingly encouraged to keep count as Timberlake scrambles for time, but then as he and Seyfried gain time and have time stolen from them repeatedly, the movie fudges the numbers and prefers you just go with whatever the plot says. And that's about all the time I have to discuss In Time.