Over the years, science fiction cinema has come up with some pretty innovative ways of keeping the world population in check.

Think Logan’s Run, or say Soylent Green, and you can see the genre has offered up some neat ways of making sure the right people die when they should.

Well, now we can add another fascinating premise to that list, thanks to writer-director Andrew Niccol’s In Time.

Set in the not-too-distant future, this offering suggests that a genetic development has led to the human race stopping the aging process when they hit 25.

While this sounds great, the hook is that once they hit 25, people only have a certain amount of time left to exist, which is neatly displayed via a countdown clock on their forearm.

Folk can earn time via work etc, but everything they do (whether it be buy a coffee, take a ride on the bus) sees time deducted as payment.

Time can also be given as a birthright, hence this futuristic society has plush areas where the elite have decades to live, as opposed to the ghettos where the inhabitants are quite literally living day-to-day.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, when that big skin clock hits zero, you die – instantly.

Enter Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a factory worker, who while drinking in a bar after work comes across a mysterious chap who has well over a century on his clock.

Saving him from some time thieves, this mystery man explains he has had enough of life and, lo and behold, Salas awakes to find the time transferred to his clock, with the previous owner having carried out a unique form of suicide.

Salas decides to see how the other half live, and uses his new-found currency to buy his way into the rich New Greenwich district.

Things do not turn out well though, and eventually Salas has to go on the run, along with rich girl Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), pursued by both the police (known as timekeepers) and a host of other goons.

This flick is obviously the next stage of Timberlake’s progression to big-name movie star, and to be fair he does a decent job.

The chemistry with Seyfried is fine enough, with the pair moving swiftly from kidnapper and kidnappee to a sort-of timeshare Bonnie & Clyde.

There is also solid support from the likes of Cillian Murphy, who heads up the timekeepers hot on their trail.

With definite strains of his previous sci-fi classic Gattacca (well, I thought it was great anyway), Niccol has come up with yet another brilliant landscape and the quality of the premise certainly earns a host of brownie points straight from the off.

A few action sequences here and there keep the pace flowing, although as much time is given over to the rights and wrongs of time-management and the shape of society as there is to flashy pyrotechnics.

There is some cliché to groan at, and a couple of moments that jar with the rest of proceedings, along with a handful of time-based puns.

And, for a film that has such a fascinating central theme, there is always this nagging feeling that what is being put before you is not quite enough.

Having said all that, In Time is certainly enjoyable and well-worth giving up an afternoon or evening for.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.