I plan on writing up a full WorldCon post, but I’m swamped with Getting Caught Up, so it’ll have to wait for now. In the meantime . . . I watched In Time last night, and I thought I might pass my thoughts on to all of you lovely people.
If you don’t know, the movie’s based on the idea that people live in a future where time is currency. Everyone stops aging at 25, and then they get one year of life. Once that life runs out, they die–but they can earn life by working. Of course, it also costs time to pay the rent, buy food. You name it.
So–high concept stuff.
Justin Timberlake plays a guy living in the slums who suddenly gets a gift of 100 years (a lot of time, for the slums). He decides he wants to break down the system, because, hey–inequality. The rich get to be immortal, the poor get to die fast.
The premise is all pretty good. The problems start cropping up in the execution. First of all, there’s no real definition of what Timberlake wants to do. I mean, he wants to stick it to the Man, but we don’t know which Man, and we don’t know how he can stick, and what he can stick with, if that makes sense. There are no clear goals.
Secondly, too much of the plot depends on coincidence. Coincidence happens. I get it. But when a ton of the plot is basically, “And then, the main character happens to _______ just as ________,” you’ve got a problem. Some of the solutions of the movie happen this way (Deus ex Machina), but complications come the same way (Deus ex Wrench).
It’s all very tense, and serious, and Oh No! But in the end, it’s also not very believable. The biggest problem is that we’re told The Man is using time to do awful things, but we don’t know what, and we don’t know how. When the main conflict of the movie is so nebulous, it’s hard to feel very engaged in the solution.
In the end, I found it diverting, but I wish more attention had been paid to crafting a more precise plot and creating a more complete world.