I wish I could say that the sci-fi film “In Time” will be a rallying cry for the disenfranchised members of the lower and middle class in this country. It certainly strives to be an allegorical revelation of the economic inequality and greed that so many are protesting about. But instead, “In Time” just reinforces the stereotype that all the protesters out there are just kids trying to rebel against a system that they have no knowledge of.
“In Time” is set in a world in which time is literally money, and people have green time counters on their forearms. It has caused the super-rich to be able to live hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years, while the poor live day to day in the ghetto. At first glance, it is an intriguing world to enter, but the film relies too heavily on rebellion being a fun thing to do to truly get the audience to root for an upsetting of the system.
Justin Timberlake’s character, Will Salas, serves as our entry point into the retro-futuristic world. He lives in the ghetto trying to earn as many minutes, hours and days as he can when one day a suicidal 105-year-old man gives Salas a century before offing himself. Salas finds himself accused of murder by the timekeepers, who are kind of a mix of the FBI and SEC.
Written and directed by Andrew Niccol of “Gattaca,” a similar in intention but smarter movie, “In Time” starts as a Hitchcockian thriller about an innocent man on the run, but Salas eventually gets involved with the daughter of one of the richest and most powerful men on the planet, played by Amanda Seyfried. Then the movie morphs into a sort of more sleek and sci-fi “Bonnie & Clyde” in which our two main leads strive to bring economic balance to the system. The chemistry between the suave Timberlake and high heel-equipped Seyfried, though, is nowhere near the energy that oozed out of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the 1967 film.
This concept is mostly muddled on execution, but one of the few thought-provoking and symbolic aspects of the film that works are the chase scenes. The chase scenes aren’t aesthetically too different from chase scenes in other Hollywood action movies, but the scenes have an added meaning and significance considering the literal time bomb that is their body. The rich always walk, and the poor constantly run because they value time and thus money. It’s a rare aspect of a subtle point well made in this movie that is otherwise filled with overt and obvious allegory.
The dialogue of the movie makes darn sure the audience knows that the sci-fi movie is trying to draw parallels with our own world, but the movie never convinces the audience of its intentions. “In Time” attempts to ride the coattails of the recent frustrations with the economic system, but that’s all it does. I didn’t go into this movie looking for the answer to our economic woes, but I hoped there would at least be some sort of cohesive theme. Apparently the makers of “In Time” decided it was more worth their time to address the grievances of the 99 percent by taking their money.