Comic Con 2011: ‘In Time’ is ‘Logan’s Run’ Meets ‘The Fugitive’ with a Touch of ‘Gattaca’

In Time was one of the films I was the most excited about covering at Comic-Con, and yet I had no bloody clue what it was about. I heard it involved some sci-fi aspect, a lot of running, and Amanda Seyfried sporting a short red ‘do.

That’s all I knew. See how well-researched I am?

Once I actually learned something about the film, there ended up being more to get excited about than just the fact it’s an Andrew Niccol film and one of the few original stories we’d be getting a glimpse at during Con. The high concept, which sounds a bit heavy-handed, is unique and looks well-handled in the three-minute sizzle reel Fox showed. And to be fair, the comparison to Gattaca carries that sound of potential non-subtlety, so I have faith Niccol will deliver a thought-provoking comment on “our desire to stay young forever” and “economic enslavement.”

The film is set in the late 21st century, and no specific date was given (could this happen so soon?!?), but it looked fairly grounded. There were no flying cars or silly futuristic clothing, thank God. So in this slightly heightened future, you don’t age past 25 years old. Once you get past 25, you have to pay for how much time you get to live for. So if you’re poor, you’re screwed. If you’re rich, then you could live until you’re 125 if you wanted to.

Now, think about all the problems that would cause. Any logical person should know the ramifications of what would happen if we lived in a world like that. Hopefully, Niccol will delve into those questions on some level. Fortunately, the three-minute sizzle reel mentioned the obvious problem of over-population, so he doesn’t seem to be glossing over the bigger issues.

Plus, the footage established the mechanics of the world and concept impressively well.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Time is used as currency. The footage showed Timberlake’s character buying coffee with a few minutes and getting docked time off his work check.
  • You can steal time from others. When you murder someone, you can take the time they owned. I’m curious to see how Niccol explains this one. I mean, to whoever designed or discovered this breakthrough, why would you make it possible to kill someone and take their time? Wouldn’t it be obvious that that could cause, I dunno, a lot of murders? Nitpicking the motive behind the logic aside, it’s a cool idea.
  • When you turn 25, a clock appears on your left forearm keeping track of how much time you have. The clock starts with one year.
  • How odd would it be to look the same age as your folks? It would be odd, and Niccol went out of his way to make it even odder by having Olivia Wilde play Justin Timberlake’s mom. Even Damon Lindelof cracked a joke about incest. Ah, incest, hilarious.

So in this extraordinarily horrific sounding world, who do we get to follow? Will Salas who is, as Timberlake explained, “an ordinary guy put in fantastical situations.” The actor, who talked a lot more about the film than Niccol during the press conference — something Timberlake poked fun at — described the film as being “intimate.”

And despite the heightened reality of the world Seyfried and Timberlake are acting in, when I approached Timberlake after the conference about the subject he stated that, “They’re very, very [grounded performances]. That was something that was really important to us. Andrew and I talked about that a lot.” As for the action, Timberlake described it as, “A different take on this type of genre, where the action sequences are very performance based. To be quite honest, we shot very real action. We didn’t do a lot and we don’t have a lot of effects.” The actor also noted that Will Salas is one of those street smart ordinary heroes, like John McClane.

Niccol doesn’t seem to have made a set-pieced clouted spectacle, but a chase film about a love story. Whether this will be hard sci-fi or not, In Time definitely looks like a lot of fun.

And the first trailer is attached to Cowboys & Aliens so everyone will get a chance to see it next week. I imagine it being a slightly shortened version of what was shown at Hall H, so you’ll get a good grasp on the world Niccol is creating.

All you really need to know about Jack is his favorite movies are: The Last Detail, Rumble Fish, Sunset Boulevard, The Truman Show, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Verdict, Closer, Shadow of a Doubt, The Long Goodbye, Spider-Man 2, Jaws, Adaptation, Get Carter, The Last Days of Disco, Carnal Knowledge, Almost Famous, Ed Wood, Ace in the Hole, Barton Fink, and L.A. Confidential.

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