This is an ingenious story, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, which shows a world in which life and work have been stripped to their essentials. People work for more life.
Each person lives freely to the age of 25. At that point, they stop aging and a timer appears on their arm. It starts at two years and begins ticking downward. If it reaches zero, the person dies. Thus, every thing they do is based on trading for time. There is no money. As Benjamin Franklin said, time is money. People work for time. Whatever they buy is based on time. If one wants to buy food, rent an apartment, or ride a bus, they don’t pay in money. They pay in minutes or hours off their built-in clock. The only ways to get more time are to work for it, trade for it, or steal it.
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in the poorest of the four time zones, Dayton. He generally only has one day left on his arm, as does his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde). They have to work each day to get enough time to live the next.
There are thieves who stake people’s times and there are timekeepers who try to keep everything in balance and combat thieves. New Greenwich is where the wealthy live, people who have amassed centuries of time.
Will gets lucky and obtains lots of time, so he goes to New Greenwich, where he meets Sylvia Weiss (Amanda Seyfried) and her father, Philippe (Vincent Kartheiser), the wealthiest man in New Greenwich, who banks time and has millennia banked.
Pursuing Will to New Greenwich is a Javert-type timekeeper, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), because he thinks Will stole the extra time he has on his clock. Will is a devil-may-care type of guy with a conscience, and those don’t fit in with the world in which he lives, so things go awry and it turns into an exciting chase film.
I generally don’t tell stories in my critiques, but that’s really the only way to set the stage for this unusual, highly entertaining sci-fi tale. All you know now is the basis for the story. If it intrigues you as much as it did me, you’ll have to go see it to see what happens and how it works out. The acting is very good, especially Kartheiser, and Niccol keeps the pace moving well. Filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles, Angelenos will see lots of familiar sites.
Even though the ending disappointed me, the film is thought-provoking and worthwhile.
Given the presence of Ray Liotta, the king of the F-bomb, it’s not surprising that this is loaded with F-bombs. This is a dark, depressing, violent film in which Channing Tatum is an attractive but troubled cop with a wife, Katie Holmes, and a daughter who has a serious ailment; gee, what a surprise!
Liotta is Tatum’s captain. Tatum’s family is being attacked by anonymous phone calls and Tatum and his boyhood pal, Tracy Morgan, are wrapped up in it.
I didn’t have my abacus with me but the number of F-bombs must set a record. Everyone says them, even Tatum’s loving wife. I was surprised their three year old daughter didn’t come out with one.
The darkness and violence are so pervasive that sometimes it seems as if it might be meant to be camp because if nothing is more predictable than if something bad can happen, it will.
Juliette Boniche gives a good performance as a journalist out to expose police corruption. Al Pacino even gives a good performance, although his appearances are so short that he couldn’t have been on the set more than a couple of days. He’s not as over-the-top as he has been in the past decade. Morgan gives what is probably the best performance in the movie.
So it’s not the performances that make this such a deplorable film; it’s the story and dialogue that make it a huge downer with virtually no redeeming value.