Making the Grades
What resource would you be most willing to pay for if it were up for sale? Time would be at the top of many lists. Like Jim Croce’s song Time in a Bottle, "There never seems to be enough time to do all the things you want to do."
In the futuristic world of the movie In Time, no one ages past twenty-five. How long you live after that depends on your ability to buy more days. Minutes and seconds are the legal tender of society and a green neon numbers on your arm denotes how much or little you have of it.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the ghetto where people rush to get as much done as they can with the moments they have. Accustomed to eking out a day-to-day existence with his mother (Olivia Wilde), Will is given a gift when a stranger (Matt Bomer) at the bar bequeaths all his "cash" to the young man. Not one to be selfish, Will shares some of his funds with his friend Borel (Johnny Galecki). Then he heads up town, to a different time zone, where those with plenty of years and decades on their hands reside. With a burning sense of social justice, this modern day Robin Hood plans to take from the rich and return to the poor. He begins by beating millionaire Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) in a game of poker.
But there are those whose job it is to keep close tabs on who controls and accumulates time. Barging into Weis’ mansion, Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy) and his two assistants (Collins Pennie, Toby Hemingway) force the savvy poker player to hand over his winnings. Will, however, kidnaps Philippe’s daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) and makes a run for freedom with her as his hostage.
Smothered by her father and constantly surrounded by guards employed to protect her and her assets, Sylvia meets people living minute-to-minute. It is a harsh reality for a girl who previously chose not to acknowledge the source of her family’s fabulous wealth.
Initially terrified of being low on funds, Sylvia’s attitude about amassing huge amounts of hours at the expense of someone else changes as she spends more time with Will. Chalk it up to love or the Stockholm syndrome. Armed with guns, she and Will break into her father’s safes and begin reallocating resources to those who are low on time.
Though naked swimmers and a girl removing much of her clothing during a game of strip poker comprise most of the film’s sexual content, violence plays out on screen throughout this film with characters being robbed, beaten and brutally shot. One man commits suicide and others drop dead on the street when their clocks run out.
Much like the backlash against the financial districts in 2011, the film substitutes time for money while it examines the disparity between haves and have nots. Unfortunately Will and Sylvia’s approach to narrowing those imbalances feels like something right out of a Bonnie and Clyde crime spree.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about In Time.
Can people "buy" more minutes in their day by using time saving items or services? If you could afford any one thing that would save you time what would it be?
What examples are there in the market, on the medical front or in other arenas of the rich taking resources from the less fortunate? Is there any way to enforce social justice in these matters? What would be the consequences of immortality?