In Time

2 11 2011

Everybody says that time is money, but “In Time” actually means it. The movie takes place in a future setting where time is literally used as currency. Once we reach age 25, our clocks start to tick down. While our bodies no longer physically age, we die if our clocks ever reach zero.

In a world where time is the currency, phrases take on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, “Have you got a minute?” doesn’t mean what you think it means, and 99 cent stores are replaced with 99 minute stores. In bad neighbourhoods, the residents are said to “kill you for a week.”

With that in mind, turning 25 is seen as a coming of age. Take a close look at yourself in the mirror on your 25th birthday, because that’s how you’ll look for the rest of your life (which could span centuries if you are financially successful). I’m sure these mutations have wreaked havoc on the anti-aging and elderly care industries.


The rich can live forever. For everybody else, death is never more than a few days away. Suddenly, living from check to check takes on a whole new meaning. Mismanaged your money? You’re dead. Slept in too long? You’re dead.

How do you tell rich people and poor people apart? Poor people do everything fast. After all, they only have so much time to live. Meanwhile, rich people are so worried about maintaining their immortality that they never risk doing activates that may kill them. In a sense, neither group has ever truly lived.

This system is the ultimate form of social control. If you think the distribution of wealth is imbalanced in our society, it pales in comparison to In Time. A few people at the highest rungs of the ladder have a monopoly over time. As one character states, the richest men in the world are worth ‘eons’.

I usually don’t fill up half of a review talking about a movie’s setting, but for In Time, the setting is the most important part of the movie. In fact, it overpowers both the plot and the characters, each of which feel like poorly written afterthoughts.

Clever viewers will see the basis of the plot long before the characters in the movie figure it out: a world in which everybody can live forever is not sustainable. For that reason, the same wealthy people who have a monopolistic hold on society are slowly increasing the rate of inflation, weeding out the lower classes with high food and housing prices.


Will (Justin Timberlake) was born into a poor time zone. After he saves a wealthy man from a mugger, the man gives him a substantial amount of time. In fact, he gives him enough time to switch ‘time zones’, which costs a significant amount of time to do.

Unfortunately, the authorities don’t like it when somebody from a poor time zone inexplicably moves to a rich time zone. Pursuing Will is Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy). Later, Will drags a wealthy girl, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) along for the ride.

Unfortunately, In Time is riddled with plot holes and has plenty of characters who behave strangely. Nevertheless, it made me think in ways that a movie had never made me think before. Wrapping your head around the wacky concept is a key part of the experience.

While a setting cannot singlehandedly power a movie, it goes a long way towards making In Time enjoyable. It’s slow at times and laughably melodramatic at others, but overall it’s an entertaining movie to watch.

3.5 stars out of 5