Quick note: For the sake of this review it’s important to explain the world in which “In Time” takes place. The film itself provides details but “The Minutes,” a special feature included with the Blu-ray/DVD set, is all about the origins of this society, so some things you read here come from that.
Director Andrew Niccol’s “In Time” opens with a lot of promise and no small amount of tension, thanks to a terrific premise. Unfortunately, the narrative sputters and misfires in the second-half, but as a political allegory, by design or accident, we are treated to a damning look at what our culture and country might look like should Obama and his fellow leftists continue to prevail.
The year is 2161 and some years ago, due to fear of over-population, scientists not only discovered a genetic cure for aging, they implanted a clock in the forearm of every newborn that counts down the years, hours, minutes, and seconds you have left before you die. No one ages a day after they turn twenty-five, but once that birthday hits, you’re given a year to live. That is, unless you’re able to earn more time. Where Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives, a working class ghetto called Dayton, your choices are limited to manual labor, begging, and crime.
Will’s not alone, either. In Dayton, the average person won’t survive the day unless they can earn more time. Here, a cup of coffee costs you four minutes, a bus ride two hours, and the rent a couple of weeks. Time is this nation’s currency, and with the cost of living always going up, it’s a hand-to-mouth existence for the half-million or so residents who live with their mortality constantly hanging over them and in the knowledge that something as mundane as missing a bus can mean you count down to zero and die on the spot.
The whole world isn’t like this; in New Greenwich, for instance, life is good. The average citizen has 347 years banked (some have millions) and most live in the kind of opulence we see today in Beverly Hills. This power and wealth is something these very few hang onto through control and manipulation. For instance, it costs years to cross the roadblocks that separate Dayton from Greenwich, and with the use of storm trooper-like police officers called Timekeepers (and the criminals they let run wild), no one in the ghetto is allowed to improve their station in life or to bank any real time.
As the saying goes, for one to be immortal, many must die.
Through a truly selfless act, a humane act in a place where humanity is in short supply, Will ends up with a century and change from a man who tells him the truth about how the system is rigged to ensure the population growth is kept under control. It’s not that coffee and bus fare is more expensive today than it was yesterday due to the laws of supply and demand, it’s that those prices are manipulated in order to create invisible ripple effects that that keep the right number of people dying.
Driven by this knowledge, his newfound century, and a personal tragedy, Will can afford to make his way into New Greenwich, which he does with the intention of blowing the lid off the whole thing. It’s among the profanely rich that Will meets a Time Baron’s daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), and it’s also here that what had been a tense, fascinating and smart plot goes completely off the rails.
A disappointing plot, though, does not change the fact that “In Time” is a shockingly conservative film. The filmmakers might have thought they were making some kind of statement about the top 1%, and I suppose some could argue that “In Time” is an indictment of capitalism, but there is no capitalism in this world — just a godless society, genetically manufactured to control a population-growth problem (something only the left sees as a virtue) that doesn’t appear to exist. In fact, for a story that takes place in an urban environment, the lack of people is a noticeable part of the barren landscape.
What we are presented with is a two-tiered society where the ultra-elite live like kings while the rest are given no opportunity to better themselves. That’s not capitalism; that’s socialism. It’s the monstrous vision of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenics institutionalized. In other words, this is big government, left-wing social-engineering personified, where oppressive equality is enforced by an elite few who don’t hold themselves to the rules they create.
Moreover, the dignity of the individual means nothing here, and God has been scientifically engineered out of the equation. Good heavens, the super rich even quote Darwin to justify their depraved indifference and the story presents immortality as something unnatural. In fact, the only sign of God that exists is in the form of a squalid mission in Dayton that selflessly gives LIFE to others.
“In Time” might not be a very good film, but if you want a peek into the mind’s eye of Barack Obama and his army of secular leftists who worship at the feet of oppressive equality but see themselves enforcing this “virtue” from the Hollywood Hills, this is about as close as you’ll ever come.
“In Time” is available at Amazon.