Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MovieBoozer Redux: "In Time"

Sometimes, after completing a writing assignment, my thoughts on the subject continue. I recently posted a review for "In Time" on MovieBoozer , and while I'm happy with it, I feel like commenting a little more. Below is the original review, with some additions/changes:

Several weeks in, Occupy Wall Street is only getting stronger. The populist movement has taken hold of a country that has seen too much corruption, and not enough justice. Hollywood, always there to capitalize, has provided some escapist relief for the disenchanted. But does it matter if the relief provided has the subtlety of a hammer over the head?

“In Time” is set in either an alternate universe or a distant future, where science has found a way to shut off the aging gene once a person reaches 25. After that, a permanent clock on your arm is set, giving you one year left to live. If you want to live longer you must add more time - now the global currency - to your clock. Of course, with a free market in a world like that, not everyone can be immortal.

Our story follows Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), who, after an encounter with a suicidal man, is given over a century of time. This, coupled with the death of his mother, the hooking up with an attractive heiress (Amanda Seyfried), and a pursuit by a relentless TimeKeeper (a cop, Cillian Murphy), starts Will off on a mission to upset a corrupt system that favors the few and exploits the many.

A Toast

The creative allegory of a society where time is literally money, where the rich are immortal and the poor live literally day to day, is not only strong, but fairly easy to grasp. Any American living paycheck to paycheck can immediately relate to this, and will definitely root for the Will Salas' forced wealth redistribution. And any help in getting the message out about income inequality and a corrupt financial system is only a good thing. 

Beer Two

I was ecstatic when I read that Andrew Niccol was going to write and direct this. His previous films Gattaca (Special Edition) and Lord of War both dealt with major issues without being too on the nose about it. For example, in the beginning of "Lord of War", we see Nicolas Cage, in a suit, standing amongst millions of bullets, wondering how He can sell more guns. On the nose, yes. But the rest of the movie deals more with his character than with the issue of international gun running.

With “In Time”, however, Andrew Niccol seems to have lost his touch. In almost every scene, characters talk about how it sucks that too many are left without while too few have all the power. No internal character study/conflict in the midst of the corruption, just Bonnie & Clyde/robin Hood style action against said corruption. And puns. There are LOTS of time puns.

Beer Three

Will and his girlfriend are on the run from a TimeKeeper, whose mission is to arrest them and restore order to this unfair system. In a few scenes, He makes reference to knowing Will's father. An interesting development could come from this; is there a secret about Will's father that might give more insight into his own character/struggle? Something that might give the movie more substance? Nope. Will's father is only briefly mentioned, and never brought up again.

Beer Four

At one point, Will breaks into a time bank by crashing a truck into it. Afterwards, during an investigation of the event, a TimeKeeper quips “They must’ve thought it was a drive thru”. Hardy har har.


The accuracy of the films message doesn’t make up for the poor way it's expressed. This is unfortunate, especially coming from Andrew Niccol. Maybe the studio wanted a dumbed down action flick and were hoping the public wouldn't care? In the end, we at least get to see a regular Joe take down fat cats with force. Maybe that's all the public needs right now? That and major political reform, of course.  

Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: For every pun about time (recommended).

Take a Drink: Whenever you wish for more subtlety.  

Take a Swig: If you were as disappointed as I was.
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