Time Bandits

In Time, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Justin Timberlake (Will Salas), Amanda Seyfried (Sylvia Weis) and Cillian Murphy (Raymond Leon) (2011): Enjoyable throwback to the at least semi-socially aware science-fiction films of the pre-Star Wars era. Niccols (writer-director of Gattaca and S1m0ne and writer of The Truman Show) pitches his films somewhere between the future and an alternate timeline, and this one, somewhat subtly, appears to take place not so much in the near-future as in an alternate universe where the secrets of human aging were decoded decades or possibly centuries ago.

Those at the top can live forever; those at the bottom scrabble for every minute and second. Time is money, and while no one ages past a certain age any more — everyone’s stuck permanently at 25 once they reach it the old-fashioned way — death comes for anyone whose clock runs out due to lack of funds after the age of 25. And the elite keep raising the price of everything, forcing the working class (there doesn’t seem to be a middle class anymore) to work more and more just to literally survive.

Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas, young, rebellious working-class hero who gets more than a century of extra time (all of it encoded into the green-glowy numeric display everyone has grafted somehow onto his or her right arm) from a member of the elite who’s grown tired of life and of the perpetual oppression of the lower classes.

Soon Salas and a daughter of the elite are on the run from Timekeeper Leon. Can they overthrow the way things are and hand out millions of extra years to the downtrodden and the oppressed? What do you think? Enjoyable and clever in the background details (you may actually have fun trying to figure out when time ‘stopped’ based on the technologym and lack thereof, you see in the movie), but also somewhat rote in its connect-the-dots final half-hour. The movie’s heart is pretty obviously on the side of the people and against the banks and corporations. Recommended.

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