Several months ago, film critic Nell Minow – aka The Movie Mom-- presented a segment on “Roger Ebert Presents” about corporate villians where she noted that "the most frequent villian in movies is the American corporation." She added that many films, which are often made and distributed by corporations themselves, use corporations as their “villain of choice”. That’s definitely the case in the new thriller, “In Time,” which pits a lowly working class man against a group of rich fat cats.
In the film’s alternate universe, time is the new form of currency. People pay for their morning coffee with minutes and “99 seconds only stores” exist for bargain shoppers. When a person reaches twenty-five years of age, a clock appears on their arm counting down the moments in that person's life. By either working or stealing, individuals can get more time added to their lifespan. However, the poor are paid badly and the rich businessmen hoard massive amounts of time in the rich section of town.
Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas, a 28-year old working-class man, who wants to steal from the rich and give to the poor. With the assistance of Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), the ungrateful daughter of a corporate businessman, Will plans to change the system and spread the “time” around so that everyone gets their fair share.
If this story sounds to you like a not-so-subtle take on class warfare, you would be right. The script, written by Andrew Niccol, doesn’t even try to hide its liberal message. When the movie was released last Friday, critics picked up on its underlying themes. In her analysis of the film, critic Rebecca Cusey of SixSeeds.tv wrote that the film's concept “reflects the socialist or even communist notion that wealth is at a fixed level, a constant pie that must be sliced into pieces, but is controlled by a small segment of the population.” She added that Occupy Wall Street protestors may be pleased with the story but that buying a movie ticket would undercut their message by “putting money in the pocket of 20th Century Fox and the theater chains.”
Cusey is right in her analysis of the film’s political message but it isn’t the film’s message that refrains me from supporting it. Some films with blatant liberal messages are both thought-provoking and enjoyable. However, “In Time” is so blatantly political that it drives it message across at the expense of plot twists or character development that it should have included.