Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Time

In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, certainly had potential and promise, yet failed to live up it.  The notion that society would take that next evolutionary leap is quite the interesting notion.  Why should anyone think that, in future societies, that man will not have created a system to prolong life for extended periods of time, if not institute a system where eternal life is possible?  We’ve already, through a better awareness for how the body works, regimented by proper diet and exercise, expanded our lifespans dramatically. 

But doesn’t this idea run counter to human biology?  I’m not that adept in this area, but from my limited knowledge I would certainly say so; that without some radical internal adjustments, it wouldn’t seem remotely possible.  But that’s why this is a movie, science fiction to be certain.  The concept in itself is an interesting one, as it provides the prompt for exploratory discussion.  This is the main reason I love when a philosophical construct is inserted into the basic premise of a book or movie.

Yet this film also, in raising a discussion on everlasting life, is also operating in a manner that goes completely against the teaching of the church.  With this system in place, God is now useless, to a certain degree.  To the best of my recall, I don’t remember seeing or hearing anything associative with religion.  Perhaps the people living in such a society are beyond prayer; perhaps they’ve simply given up altogether? 

While I’m not offended easily, I do find it interesting why any form of entertainment, would virtually throw down their gloves at religion.  Even when done under the radar, it boggles the mind.  Those building something that they intend to sell, hope to make profits from, and would be wise to avoid any such topic that could prove to be counterintuitive to their overall design.  Now, that all said, If the premise is intrinsically tied into edgy subjects than obviously there is both a case of purpose and not including such elements would be a bit of a loss, as it pertains to integrity.

Religion is a subtle attempt at ruffling feathers, whereas politics is a whole other ball of wax.  To be fair the criticism argued on talk-radio is both emblematic of what can and typically does take place when presenting “fringe” elements, as well as a bit overblown at the same time. 

The societies within this film are certainly a main part of the film.  Any attempt to water this down would certainly dampen the film.  However, those responsible for content, certainly have an agenda. 

The caste structure within In Time is broken down into zones.  It’s a system where the higher the zone, the more affluent the residents.  This is nothing shocking, in fact look around your own city and you’ll see this structure firmly in place already.  Where the film takes the extra step is by illustrating the tax structure in place in their fictional representative cities or zones.  The lower you are zone-wise, meaning the poor you are, the higher you are taxed.  The “ruling class” cite Darwin and thus equate money, in this case time, makes you more likely the fittest.  Yet in a society where everyone has the potential to live forever, that is if they can consistently buy, earn or steal enough time, then overcrowding would most definitely occur.  For this problem enter the timekeepers.

The timekeepers are simply policemen.  They ensure that time is allocated properly, that is ensuring that the higher zones contain the most time.  This idea, combined with the ever-present, almost daily, increase of the cost of living in the lower zones, means that a “natural” weeding out will take place.  It’s also extremely interesting how the “law” of this future time are not concerned with murder or any act we would most likely deem as criminal in this time.  Instead they say as such, only concerning themselves in keeping the status quo safeguarded.

While the philosophical and sociological elements in this film are pretty interesting to delve into, the film lacks in the majority of the other areas necessary for a good production.

First, the acting is commonplace.  There is nothing special by any of the actors in this film.  Olivia Wilde (House, Cowboys & Aliens etc…) and Matt Bomar (White Collar) do the best job in this regard, despite both of their characters being killed off within the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Next is a cinematography that offers nothing special outside a nice contrast between the highest and lowest population zones.  Other than that it’s a whole lot of continual repetition throughout.

Finally, the plot itself falls flat.  While the philosophical questions and socio-economic conditions are certainly the backbone of the piece, outside of motivation they’re second-seated throughout the entire showing.  What this film becomes then is a simple rehashing of Robin Hood, where the two main characters, travel around robbing banks and stealing time, all in an effort to level the playing field and assisting the poor.  While this is a noble premise, and I love the Robin Hood stories, it’s been done and putting the setting in the far off future doesn’t incite sparks as those previous “steal from the rich, give to the poor” tales have been providing for years.

The film, in my opinion, should have stuck to what I believe they wanted to do, which is explore the philosophical constructs further.  I won’t criticize the writers for deviating their course though.  They simply did what they thought they had to do to sell a film.  With that said the film would’ve been better off exploring it’s initial dynamics more profoundly, with unknown actors, and a much smaller budget, which would afford them the luxury of low overhead, meaning “arthouses” would be the likely locale.  And if we’ve learned anything in the past twenty years, arthouse films can make a profit.  If the film is good people will go see it, regardless of what type of cinema it’s showing in.

Overall the film is about a C+ if I had to provide a grade.  It’s probably one you’d rather wait for on Blu-Ray, DVD or even pay-per-view though.  If you still choose to go see In Time on the big screen, just keep your expectations in check, especially if you were drawn to this film based on the premises hinted at through its trailers.

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