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In Time (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 102 minutes.

OK for children.

This is an ingenious story, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, that shows a world in which life and work have been stripped to their essentials. People work for more life.

Each person lives freely to the age of 25. At that point, they stop aging and a timer appears on their arm. It starts at two years and begins ticking downward. If it reaches zero, the person dies. Thus, every thing they do is based on trading for time. There is no money. As Benjamin Franklin said, time is money. People work for time. Whatever they buy is based on time. If one wants to buy food, rent an apartment, or ride a bus, they don't pay in money. They pay in minutes or hours off their built-in clock. The only ways to get more time are to work for it, trade for it, or steal it.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the poorest of the four time zones, Dayton. He generally only has one day left on his arm, as does his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde). They have to work each day to get enough time to live the next.

There are thieves who steal people's times and there are timekeepers who try to keep everything in balance and combat thieves. New Greenwich is where the wealthy live, people who have amassed centuries of time.

Will gets lucky and obtains lots of time, so he goes to New Greenwich, where he meets Sylvia Weiss (Amanda Seyfried) and her father, Philippe (Vincent Kartheiser), the wealthiest man in New Greenwich, who banks time and has millennia banked.

Pursuing Will to New Greenwich is a Javert-type timekeeper, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), because he thinks Will stole the extra time he has on his clock. Will is a devil-may-care type of guy with a conscience, and those don't fit in with the world in which he lives, so things go awry and it turns into an exciting chase film.

I generally don't tell stories in my critiques, but that's really the only way to set the stage for this unusual, highly entertaining sci-fi tale. All you know now is the basis for the story. If it intrigues you as much as it did me, you'll have to go see it to see what happens and how it works out. The acting is very good, especially Kartheiser, and Niccol keeps the pace moving well. Filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles, Angelenos will see lots of familiar sites.

Even though the ending disappointed me, the film is thought-provoking and worthwhile.