Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Time

To make up for all my lateness recently, here's my review of In Time, which opens world wide this Friday. 

From Channel24

What it's about

In a future where people only age up until they turn 25, at which point they have to work for more time if they want to live for longer than the next year, Will Salas, an ordinary working-class stiff, suddenly finds himself suspected of murder and on the run from "The Timekeepers" (the primary law enforcement of the period) before he is presented with an opportunity to redress the balance between the immortal "haves" and the "day to day living" have-nots. 

What we thought

Science fiction at its best is a genre of allegory. By placing its stories on distant planets and far flung futures or through its use of impossible sciences and technology, science fiction uses its fantasies to comment on our own world and our own lives. For all of its numerous faults, the best thing about In Time is that it fully embraces this idea.

Admittedly, we're talking less about science fiction as metaphor, so much as science fiction as blindingly obvious simile, but In Time clearly has something to say. In a world where time literally is money, the central theses of the film can best be summed up in a single line that our anarchic hero says to the chief baddie – a slick, over-privileged establishment figure: "No one should live forever, if it means that one person should die". Substitute "be rich" for "live forever" and "be destitute" for "die" and it becomes quickly apparent just exactly what the film's message is.

Essentially a mix of V for Vendetta's anti-establishment anarchy and the far-left politics of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, In Time gleefully raises a middle finger to the capitalist system on which Western society is built – even as it itself is the product of the capitalist machine we call Hollywood. It may be hyperbolic, hypocritical and more than a little daft but there's something immensely satisfying about a film that plays out with all of the snarling punk-rock anger of a Sex Pistols single. It's not for nothing that In Time has come out in the current economic climate, after all.

With that in mind, it becomes pretty easy - for me, at least - to forgive the film many of its evident failings. It does, after all, have a central concept that pushes the suspension of disbelief to its breaking point; as well as a slow start, a sometimes shaky script and more than enough plot holes to sink even the sturdiest of blockbusters. It is exactly the kind of film, in short, that you could pick apart to death with little more than a raised eyebrow and a couple of barely functioning brain cells. But why do that when you can instead bask in all its adolescent, pop-revolutionist glory?

And, if vitriolic yet simplistic socialist sentiment isn't your thing (you know, if you're a) a right-leaning conservative or b) paid more than your average journalist) then the film certainly has a number of other pleasures to make it at least somewhat worthwhile. Timberlake and Seyfried make for attractive, likeable leads, while Vincent Kartheiser and Cillian Murphy are even better in more sinister, supporting parts. Andrew Nicol's direction is occasionally bland, but it is mostly appropriately icey and he certainly knows how to shoot some exciting chase scenes.    

Fans of smart science fiction have enjoyed a spoil of riches lately. From Inception to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, In Time has some fairly stiff competition and, though it’s not up to the best of its contemporaries, it's still worth a trip to your local cinema – even if your enjoyment of it will be directly proportionate to how much time you have for clumsy socialist preaching.   

No comments:

Post a Comment