We’ve all heard the saying “time is money”; Andrew Niccol’s science-fiction movie brings this ubiquitous phrase to life. Set in the next century, the film features characters who are born with just 25 years to live and must work to gain more time. They spend their precious minutes on food, clothes, housing, and for a lucky few, luxury.
Will Salas (a ghetto resident excellently incarnated by Justin Timberlake) is given 116 years by a rich but suicidal man. Will, who has now become a murder suspect, takes leave for the affluent district of New Greenwich, where he meets a wealthy banker and falls in love with Sylvia, the magnate’s daughter. Coming from a neighborhood where people regularly run out of time and drop dead, Will is astounded by New Greenwich – as well as revolted. So, accompanied by his new mistress, he sets off to do justice by pillaging Sylvia’s father’s banks and distributing time to the plebeians of his neighborhood.
Turning fantasy into philosophy, “In Time” shows both our dependence on money and its blatantly unequal distribution (compacted into the memorable line “For a few to be immortal, many must die”).
The plot’s metamorphosis into a love story between two do-gooders was unfortunate, though. It seemed so predictable that I wasn’t expecting it to actually happen, and it left me slightly annoyed. The film’s originality and message, however, remained intact. Whether you’re a sci-fi geek or prefer intellectual Palme d’Or winners, I would recommend “In Time.” Its fictive society eerily resembles our own.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.