Justin Timberlake continues to surprise me. N’ Sync, his baby boy band, was catchy enough for what it was, but his touching performance in his most recent star vehicle In Time, really got me thinking. It had aged far enough along to land on Pay Per View last week, so it fit my cheapskate budget.
You definitely check your disbelief at the door, because somehow or another the entire human race has been engineered to sport a bioluminescent clock on the forearm. Once we turn 25, we have one year left, and the only way to get more time is to earn, buy or inherit it. Coffee costs three minutes, and a loaf of bread ten. Literally, time is money.
Naturally, that means the film is filled with 25 year old gorgeous humans. The lovely Olivia Wilde plays Justin’s mom (25 years old 24 times over) and stunning Amanda Seyfried, a doe-eyed beauty who just turned 25 herself.
Cillian Murphy is the bad-guy cop, who actually does look like he’s aging, rather like a fine wine. I’d pay to watch Cillian Murphy sleep.
Justin plays a denizen of the ghetto, and receives a windfall of time from a wealthy man who’s slumming. He uses his windfall to work his way up the social ladder, until finally he gets to New Haven, where everyone has hundreds and hundreds of years to use, which have been extorted from the inhabitants of the ghetto.
New Haven looks like upscale Jersey, except it’s immaculate with very few cars and no one swimming in the ocean. Justin is introduced to his love interest, and she is scandalized when he suggests they go for a midnight swim. No one ever ‘goes in.’ The ocean is a great analogy for so many things in life.
No one ‘goes in’. Hmmm. Why not? Well, something might eat you, for one thing. You might bash your head on a rock and drown. And if you have several hundred years on your arm, why would you risk death by a random act as risky as swimming?
Justin’s character buys what looks like a Jag XJ40. The dealer charges him 59 years (plus tax) and asks him where he would like it delivered for display.
Delivered? Justin looks baffled. “Hell, no. I ‘m going to drive it.” Why? You might crash. Why do anything? Why take any risk, ever? You might die, after all.
What follows is a touching Robin Hood scenario, where Justin kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy ‘Time Magnet’ (Seyfried) and they both proceed to rob from her father and give time back to the deserving poor.
A friend of mine once told me he hated to see me spend resources on a battle that’s for “the principle of the thing.” I had to laugh. What else is there, if not the principle of the thing? Where else would you spend your time, if not on the principles that are important to you? I spend so much of my very valuable time on children. Even more on their parents. I spend too much time dealing with my government, but I do it, for the principle of the thing. I spend time that I don’t have on my own children, shortchanging myself on sleep and other important things. I do it because I know that I can’t keep it, and it’s better to give it away.
Justin and his love interest go around stealing time and giving it away, essentially spending their resources on the principle that no one should die before their time. As the story arc peaks, Justin kisses Amanda goodbye, as his ‘clock’ has only minutes left.
A plot twist gives him a bit more time. As they hold each other, she asks him, “How much time do you have?”
“A day.” he murmurs. “How much more do you really need?”