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In Time

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
In Time Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi thriller has violence, sexuality, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 109 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 38 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The idea that time is precious is a good message for all, as is the notion that no one should ever die so that someone else can become richer. But the movie's moral is muddied by the main characters' inconsistent behavior. How can they judge who merits the time and who doesn't? Still, despite their dire situation, Will and his mother love each other unconditionally and are always willing to spare some time for each other and those who are even less fortunate.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At times, Will is a good role model: He's a loving son, a generous man, and a good friend. His mother is also a sweet and kind woman who gives her son time she can't really spare. The manager of the local mission gives most of his time away to the needier, and even Sylvia grows to understand the plight of the timeless.

Violence

Plenty of shootings (some at close range, though there's little blood); one suicide. Most people die when their countdown clock hits zero, and this can happen to anyone -- particularly the poor -- at any time if they can't find someone to give or lend them some extra time until their next time-paying job. The dead are shown peppered throughout the streets; in one heartbreaking scene, two characters miss being reunited by a second, and it's just long enough for one to die in the other's arms. Those who do have more than enough time can still die if someone steals their time or if they're injured beyond repair in an accident, by a gun shot, etc. Most of the characters who die in the movie have their "clocks cleared," although a few are shot.

Sex

Will and Sylvia hook up pretty quickly; they flirt and go skinny dipping (her nude bottom is shown under the water) before they even have their first kiss. Later, after their first passionate kiss, they end up staying together and making out. They play strip poker on a bed, and Sylvia is obviously losing -- she's down to her lace bra and panties. There's no actual love scene, though, since the couple is interrupted before they can go all the way (although it's clear they've done so off camera). In other scenes, a prostitute propositions a cop and rich women wear tight, revealing outfits.

Language

Occasional use of words like "s--t," "ass," "damn," and "hell," as well as one memorable "f--k" (said as "un-f--king-believable." "God" and "Jesus"-based exclamations are said several times as well.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine, champagne, and hard liquor at social events, a bar, and in private. Will's best friend (literally) drinks himself to death by using all of his bonus "time" on alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sci-fi adventure features a fair bit of violence, twentysomething sexuality, and heavy themes about social equality and injustice that may not be appropriate for tweens interested in seeing a Justin Timberlake movie. Language includes one "f--k," as well as "s--t," "damn," "ass"; violent scenes feature close-range shootings (mostly bloodless), people dropping dead when their clocks reach zero, and one suicide. Sex is implied rather than shown, but there's a skinny-dipping scene with a glimpse of a nude bottom, as well as strip poker and some skimpy lingerie. There's a Robin Hood-esque theme to the second half of the movie, but it's wrapped around a shallower Bonnie-and-Clyde vibe of "let's have fun robbing from the rich." Despite the movie's mixed messages, one lesson is loud and clear: Don't waste your time.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDr3w November 7, 2011

Mediocre Action Flick

This movie wasn't very good honestly. Kind of cheesy and nothing terribly exciting. I wouldn't let anyone in my family watch it because we simply do... Continue reading
Adult Written bywhgraham June 21, 2012

Not worth the "time"

From a sci-fi perspective it's somewhat interesting, but it's dull, the "quiet" pre-sex moments between Timberlake and his love interest are... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 October 28, 2011

Read

Change: Rated R: Nudity, Language, and Violence used with weapons
Teen, 17 years old Written byswallowtear October 28, 2011

Political Sci-Fy Thriller

In this current political climate, In Time parallels things such as the 99% argument that has come up recently, with the recurring theme: "For one to becom... Continue reading

What's the story?

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives in a futuristic world in which everyone ages until 25 -- and then, the instant they hit that milestone, their internal clock is turned on like a glowing counter on their forearms, and they must work to earn each additional minute, hour, and year of their lives. Will and his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde), live in Dayton, the "poor" time zone in which everyone lives minute to minute; one night, after Will helps a wealthy man flee the zone's biggest time thief, the mysterious rich fellow explains how the rich are immortal, while the poor die in the streets. He then gives Will 116 years before committing suicide. Left with more time than anyone in his zone, Will flees to the far posher zone of New Greenwich, where businessmen like Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) are so time-rich that their wives wear gloves so as not to flaunt their millennia. Wanted by the head Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy), Will narrowly escapes the zone with Philippe's daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), as his hostage. The two embark on a mission to redistribute time and expose the system's injustice.

Is it any good?

The first half of IN TIME is stylish and original and offers just enough action and punny time jokes to be genuinely entertaining without being over the top. Parading an all-star cast of talented actors, led by the always charismatic Timberlake, the movie is by turns a thriller, a treatise on the unfair distribution of wealth, and a Bonnie and Clyde-meets-Robin Hood caper. Parts are particularly poignant, like a gut-wrenching sequence in which Rachel is running as fast as she can to meet Will before she times out, or when Will sweetly gives his best friend (Johnny Galecki) a decade in tribute to their 10 years of friendship.

 

But once Will and Sylvia hook up to free the time, the movie's many flaws emerge to bog the action down in unanswered questions. Will's dead father's name is brought up several times, but it's never exactly clear why he was such a revolutionary hero. It's also uncertain when or how the time system started -- if it's a genetic alteration introduced in a dystopian future or something created to keep the masses in slave-like conditions. Some of the relationships, especially Sylvia's with her parents, are especially one-dimensional (it's ludicrous that one of the richest men in the world wouldn't give away time for his one and only daughter). Director Andrew Niccol gets points for the movie's fascinating premise and the exciting cast, but he should have done a better job of sustaining the cool concept and tightening up loose ends. This is one of those entertaining-enough sci-fi movies that it's best not to overthink, or else your time will feel wasted.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's sci-fi themes. Why are futuristic storylines so compelling to audiences? Is this vision of the future a positive one or a cautionary tale? Can you think of other movies with futures that seem better to live in than this time-obsessed one?

  • How do the filmmakers cleverly use "time" to replace wealth in the story? Pick out a few examples of how characters literally mean it when they say "I'm out of time," or "have a minute?"

  • How is the movie's message of wealth distribution and injustice relevant today?

Movie details

For kids who love sci-fi

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