Sunday, November 13, 2011

“Don’t waste my time”

I found the trailer to the movie ‘In Time’ quite interesting. It offered a new and original premise based on a literal interpretation of ‘Time is Money’ and a slightly left-leaning view of what’s wrong with a scarcity based economic model. This latter point piqued my interest even more.

Of late I have been reading about the Resource Based Economy (RBE); an idea proposed by Jacque Fresco, one which does not involve money for the distribution of resources. More on that later. I am now working on a series of posts on RBE. It sure does sounds utopian but it would be immature to come to that judgement without doing further research and asking more questions. That’s what I am aiming for from that series. However, all about that later.

Here, I’ll just post my review of the flick. As I was walking out of the movie hall I wasn’t disappointed. It was an hour and a half of well paced fun with my mind being taken to RBE on quite a few occasions. Some may pick on this distraction and say that it means the movie is not engrossing enough. True; but I like keeping my mind occupied and in this case since some of the dialogues were taking me to my blog series on RBE, I was enjoying the ride.

Soon after I got home I thought I would list out the movie’s good and bad. If I don’t like a movie I would rather not write about it than dissing about it publicly. Since I enjoyed the ride in the movie hall I thought I could write a positive review of this one. Oh well, was I disappointed? Here’s my list. First, I’ll start with the basic plot.

The premise
The concept behind the movie is interesting. It is set in a futuristic world where scientists have learnt to control the gene for aging. People are always 25 and can remain immortal if they remain vigilant and do not take undue physical risks. However, probably with the notion of controlling population growth, not everyone is given a stab at immortality.

Time is money here. Once you are 25 a clock starts ticking, one that you have to recharge if you want to live for more than a year. This ‘time’ is bartered among the populace in exchange for resources following the free market rules of supply and demand. In essence, replace today’s money with time and most of the math economists would have learnt in our world would still be valid.

And as in today’s world this ‘time’ is concentrated in the hands of a few who have millennia to live out their lives while the majority, the crux of society - the workforce, live on a day-to-day basis. Some of them struggle to make ends meet, time out and die. Now, time is an abundant resource whose scarcity has been artificially created so that the economic model can function and the earth remains sustainable. There is in fact enough for all. Everyone can have their aging genes turned off. But that is hardly sustainable. Hence, the oft repeated dialogue “For a few to remain immortal, many must die”. The ‘poor’ find this unfair.

Enter Will Salas (played by Justin Timberlake) who is the future-day Robin Hood stealing time from the rich and distributing it to all. A bored daughter of a million-year -worth executive, Sylvia (played by Amanda Seyfried), joins hands with Will in bringing the system down.

The good
The movie is well paced with not more than a couple of dull moments when you think ‘just get on with it’ (like the scene where Will is running towards a timing-out Sylvia). Darn! I am already scratching my head on this one.

The bad
The plot is predictable (but that was expected anyway) and most characters are poorly developed, in particular Cilian Murphy’s role as the Time Keeper. Why is he so obsessed with arresting Will? Didn’t he escape from the ghetto as well, just like Will? What prompts him to say "I escaped but I can't allow them to" or something to that effect?

The next thing I would have changed about the movie is, in two words, Justin Timberlake. In spite of The Social Network I just can’t take him seriously as an actor.

I am being a little picky on this one, but I don’t also like how the movie is marketed as science-fiction. This movie has no details. There should have at least been a background at the start on how the aging control came about. Serious sci-fi watchers need this extra dimension. Without these details, it is a “fantasy” thriller at best.

The ugly
The writers were really lazy in some places and the screenplay is sloppy. Towards the end when the Salvation Army Guy is distributing some time from the million-year worth recharger to everyone, why didn’t anyone in the ghetto try to steal it (at least try) all for himself? You can say that the abundance of the resource (time in this case) negates the motivation for stealing. But a million is not really a lot. Considering an LA population of over 1 million, each person would get less than a year. Heck! You need to pay one year to get into the luxurious New Greenwich.

Then there is the case of Sylvia running 100s of yards wearing heels that are almost as tall as her. Then, in spite of biotechnology progressing forward it looks like communication technology has regressed. Welcome pay phones; bye-bye mobile devices. Finally, did the writers forget about the fact that Cilian Murphy was shot? He showed no signs of it the next day.

In short, the movie has an interesting premise but the execution may be called into question. It is worth a watch, once, but not in a theater. Wait for the DVD release or till it comes up on Netflix Instant. Have something on your mind to keep you distracted so that the flaws in the movie don’t bug you when you are watching it. That way you might just enjoy this flick. Why did I even write this review? I was happier before. Ignorance is indeed bliss.


Menachery said...

yes like you mentioned, the concept is awesome, something 'original'.. and could have been dealt with in a much betta manner..for me the movie was a drag which dnt wanna make sense..... and good you had something to think about during the movie, all i had by my side was a sloppy phantom :P .. newys good read... :)

Kirklops said...

Thanks for the visit, menachery. I really liked the way the movie started, but it just faltered along the way.

Shockgrubz said...

I was hoping "In Time" would have been good enough for the premise. Thanks for saving me some time from watching this.

Kirklops said...

Sockgrubz... well, I don't know... reading a negative review would make me watch a movie even more than a positive one :)

Mark said...

In Time did actually appeal to me. I'm yet to watch it but I probably will.

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