A hundred or so years into the future, geneticists have isolated the gene that stops us from aging past the age of twenty-five, and have therefore given us the ability to technically live forever, barring an accident or murder. The only problem is that scientists have calculated that there aren’t enough natural resources on the planet to go around, so they have implanted clocks inside each person, set to go off one year after their twenty-fifth birthday when they literally “time out.” In this futuristic society, where the world has been divided into “time zones” segregated by class, time literally becomes money, and a quick arm-grab handshake exchanges the currency between two parties.
In an attempt to make a political or sociological statement about the state of our planet, the line between rich and poor is over-exaggerated, as the rich upper class folk who can afford to “waste time” lounge around in casinos with literally eons on their hands, and the poor are rounded up into ghettos where they live day to day, making each second count.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is one of those ghetto kids. He’s survived three years past his twenty-fifth birthday by working hard and living for the minute. His mom (Olivia Wilde) and him have gotten by in their little flat since his father’s death, but Will sees the injustice and longs for change. When a wealthy man offers him a century as long as he promises to make it count, Will takes off for the wealthy district, New Greenwich, with time to spare and a new perspective on life.
Upon arriving at the
capitol district (wait, that’s from Hunger Games!) main time zone, Will meets all kinds of rich and bored people who literally “waste time” on lavish things, and the worst offender of them all is Phillipe Wies (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser). His heiress daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) is immediately drawn to to Will’s “live for the moment” attitude, and before she knows it, she is being held at gunpoint by him as a hostage as he’s being sought out as a murder suspect.
Being chased by the “timekeepers” (police) led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), a local cop whose thirst for justice makes him a dangerous enemy, and being hunted by local thugs’ “minutemen” who want to get ahold of all that time, Sylvia and Will become futuristic Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor to try to topple the system. “For a few to be immortal, many must die” was the mantra of the times, but now the playing field can possibly be leveled.
The film’s basis is an excellent idea, and brings up some really great discussions about “survival of the fittest” and questions of life and justice. In our world and society nowadays, the poor usually don’t live as long as the rich, but it’s not quite as evident as it is in the movie when you literally die when your “money” is up. Also, with the plot revolving around expiring time, it’s pretty easy to build suspense and drama as clocks are nearing thirteen zeroes and lives are at stake.
Despite good action and an excellent plot, the acting falls a little flat, and I was hoping for just a bit more on the execution end. Timberlake does okay as an action star, but if he weren’t already super-famous he might be a little forgettable in the role. Seyfried plays the doe-eyed heiress very wooden, and it is hard not to think back to her character in Mean Girls. Murphy, who usually excels in Christopher Nolan films (Batman Begins, Inception), doesn’t quite bring it like usual, and the movie that had so much potential falls a few yards short. Not to mention, the time puns started to wear on me about fifteen minutes in.
Special features on the Blu-ray include deleted scenes and a featurette called “The Minutes,” which is a cool backstory for the film shot in a documentary style. It includes fake interviews with the scientists and geneticists who made the huge discoveries and paved the way for how things are in 2161. It also has interviews with the characters in the movie like Will and Sylvia, and it’s fun to see how most interviewees don’t have “the time” to spend talking to a camera man, when they could only have hours to live.