And given the concept, I have to resist the temptation to say it wasted nearly 2 hours of my time.
Confession: I have a soft spot for high-concept sci-fi, especially the way they use ridiculous constructions of the future as analogies for modern issues. But I wasn't really excited about this film because the trailer just didn't look that good--looked like no subtlety in either the concept or execution. That was just compounded when I heard they stole the idea for a Harlan Ellison short story, and weren't giving him credit (to be fair, they also stole ideas from Bonnie & Clyde and Robin Hood). But recently a couple of different friends told me it was worth seeing, so I decided to check it out.
Eh, I could've missed it. The concept was interesting enough, if completely unsubtle. In the future, instead of money we use time. On your 25th birthday you stop aging, but a clock grows in your arm that counts down from 1 year. You can add or subtract time like money from a checking account, but when the clock counts down to zero, you die. So the rich are immortal, but in order for a few to be immortal, many must die. Justin Timberlake stars as Will Salas, a poor 28 year old (or "25 for 3 years") living in the ghetto day-to-day. Literally, he rarely has more than 24 hours on his clock. But then he meets a rich guy drinking in a ghetto bar with over a century on his arm. That's just asking to be mugged and killed. So Will saves him, only to learn that the guy wanted to die--he's tired of life, how the rich are immortal but never really live, and how the system is rigged specifically to keep the masses poor--the cost of living goes up because people have to die or else we wouldn't have any room. So while their sleeping, the mysterious century-aire gives Will nearly all his time and goes off to die. And then Will uses that time to first get into the rich guys club and then when he's discovered and tracked down by a Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy), he works with a rich man's impetuous daughter (Amanda Seyfried) to bring down the whole system.
There's some okay action, but given the promising concept it fails to rise above a standard action flick. The problem is there are two many potentially intriguing philosophical ideas that just aren't explored. With every adult a perpetual 25 years old, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters are all the same age--that could be interesting, but it feels more like an excuse to only cast attractive youngsters rather than anyone with a single damn wrinkle. The Timekeeper keeps saying that giving away time is more dangerous than stealing it, but the "why" of that is never really explained (seems like a knee-jerk "communism is bad!" reaction, rather than any true insight). The idea that the poor die all the time but the rich never really live is mentioned, but then goes nowhere. I get the feeling that if this were a TV series (and the writing was better, maybe actually do more than thank Ellison, bring him in at least as a consultant) they would have time to flesh out these ideas and explore them from all angles, and that would be a lot more interesting.
Running Time: 109 minutes
My Total Minutes: 257,132