In Time

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In Time
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Produced by
Written by Andrew Niccol
Music by Craig Armstrong
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by Zach Staenberg
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 28, 2011 (2011-10-28)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[2]
Box office $173,930,596[3]

In Time is a 2011 American dystopian science fiction thriller film written, directed, and produced by Andrew Niccol and starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy that takes place in a society where people stop aging at 25 and each has a clock on their arm that counts down how long they have to live. The film was released on October 28, 2011.


In 2169, people are born genetically engineered with a digital clock on their forearm. When they turn 25 years old, they stop aging and their clock begins counting down from one year;[Note 1] when it reaches zero, that person "times out" and dies. Time has become the universal currency; it is used to pay for daily expenses and can be transferred between people or capsules. The country has been divided into "time zones" based on the wealth of the population. The film focuses on two specific zones: Dayton - a poor manufacturing area where people generally have 24 hours or less on their clock at any given time - and New Greenwich - the wealthiest time zone, where people have enough time on their clock to live for centuries.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a 28-year-old Dayton factory worker who lives with his 50-year-old mother Rachel (Olivia Wilde). One night at a local bar, he saves a drunken and suicidal 105-year-old man named Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) from an attempted robbery by 75-year-old local thief Fortis (Alex Pettyfer) and his gang; such criminal gangs are called "Minutemen" since they steal their victims' time. Later that night, in a secret location, Hamilton reveals to Will the truth about time wealth: there is plenty of time for everyone to live a long life. Hamilton explains that the people of New Greenwich hoard most of the time for themselves in order to live forever, while constantly increasing the cost of living in poorer districts to keep people dying. Hamilton gives a sleeping Will 105 years of his time, leaving himself with 5 minutes. After awakening to a message from Hamilton not to waste the time he was given, Will rushes to a nearby bridge that Hamilton is sitting on, but he arrives too late to stop Hamilton from timing out and falling dead into the water. Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), leader of the Timekeepers-like policemen, leads the investigation into Hamilton's death, and erroneously assumes that Will robbed and killed Hamilton.

Will visits his best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki) and shares ten years with him, one for each year of their friendship. Heeding Borel's warning that staying in Dayton with that much time will get him killed, Will tells Borel that he is going to use the time to move with his mom to New Greenwich. Meanwhile, Rachel uses all but 90 minutes of her time to pay off a 2-day loan and finds herself short for bus fare to get home since the fare has been increased. The uncaring driver forces her to run back to Dayton, but she arrives a few seconds too late for Will to save her and times out in his arms. The following morning, Will decides to call a car service and head to New Greenwich, where he spends his first night in a hotel suite. The next day, he meets 110-year-old time-loaning businessman Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) and his 27-year-old daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) at a local casino. While playing poker with Weis, Will bets all of his time and wins 1,100 years in the hand. Afterward, Sylvia invites him to a party in the Weis mansion. Will buys a mid-1960's Jaguar XK-E and drives himself to the party, where the Timekeepers quickly apprehend him. After Will explains how he obtained the time he currently has, a skeptical Raymond arbitrarily confiscates all but two hours of Will's time, but Will manages to escape with Sylvia as hostage. En route to Dayton they are ambushed by Fortis and his gang, who take all but thirty minutes of their time. Will attempts to get some time back from Borel, but learns from his wife Greta (Yaya DaCosta) that he used his time to drink himself to death with nine years left on his clock. Sylvia is forced to pawn some jewelry to get time for herself and Will, and Will calls Weis to demand a 1,000 year ransom for her. When Weis refuses to pay, Will decides to release Sylvia, who calls Weis from a pay phone, but they are ambushed by Raymond, whom Sylvia shoots by accident.

Will and Sylvia decide to team up and begin robbing her father's time banks and donate some of their time to the poor to keep them alive. A ten-year reward is offered for their capture, which leads Fortis and his gang to hunt them down in a local hotel room. After shooting the rest of the gang and then killing Fortis by winning a duel to the death, Will escapes with Sylvia. However, the pair realize they cannot steal enough time to effectively change things, as New Greenwich simply raises prices to compensate. They decide on a big score and rob her father's personal vault for one million years. Raymond chases them back to Dayton, but is too late to stop them from distributing the stolen time to the poor. Raymond chases them to the outskirts of the city where, after revealing that he also came from Dayton, he times out, having neglected to collect his daily time allotment. Will and Sylvia, each with just over a minute to live, race to Raymond's patrol car and Will collects Raymond's daily pay. In a scene reminiscent of his mother's death, Will and Sylvia run toward each other with seconds left; this time, he makes it in time to save her.

TV reports show factories in Dayton shutting down as everyone has enough time and abandons their jobs to go to New Greenwich. Will and Sylvia continue robbing banks as part of their efforts to crash the system, while the rich attempt to cope with the sudden surge of people infiltrating their zone.



Before the film was titled In Time, the names Now and I'm.mortal were used.[4] On July 12, 2010, it was reported that Amanda Seyfried had been offered a lead role.[5] On July 27, 2010, it was confirmed that Justin Timberlake had been offered a lead role.[6] On August 9, 2010, Cillian Murphy was confirmed to have joined the cast.[7]

The first photos from the set were revealed on October 28, 2010.[8] 20th Century Fox and New Regency distributed the film, and Marc Abraham and Eric Newman's Strike Entertainment produced it.[9]

In an interview with Kristopher Tapley of Roger Deakins stated that he would be shooting the film in digital, which makes this the first film to be shot in digital by the veteran cinematographer.[10]

The Dayton scenes were filmed primarily in the Skid Row and Boyle Heights neighborhoods of Los Angeles, while the New Greenwich scenes were filmed primarily in Century City, Bel Air, and Malibu. Although the names of the ghetto-like zone and wealthy enclave reflect Dayton and Greenwich, respectively, the maps used by the Timekeepers are maps of Los Angeles, CA.

Using the common device of Future-Retro, the production's vehicle suppliers assembled a fleet of cars and trucks from used car lots and junkyards. Although an ancient Citroën DS 21 and Cadillac Seville feature, center stage goes to a fleet of seemingly immaculate Dodge Challengers and Lincoln Continentals. The rich drive around in the high gloss Lincolns, all of which have been smoothed, lowered and fitted with over-sized disc wheels on low profile rubber. The Dodges are the Time Keeper's cop cars. These too have been smoothed and externally customized, with grilles front and rear covering the lights, and low profile tires on disc wheels. In stark contrast to the Lincolns, paintwork is matte black. A slim police light-bar is fitted internally, behind the windshield. Externally this fleet looked immaculate but no money was spent on what would not be seen and many of the vehicles had wrecked interiors, with ripped seats, carpets and head-linings. Because the cars had been assembled from many sources and prepared to look identical, the interiors of most were of a color which did not match the black exteriors. The best of the Lincoln Continentals, for instance, whose interior is seen in the production, is trimmed out in blue.

The use of future retro is one of many elements that the film seems to share with Niccol's earlier work, Gattaca. The earlier work also features electrically powered vintage cars (notably a Rover P6 and again, a Citroën DS), as well as buildings of indeterminate age. Gattaca also deals with innate inequalities (though in its case genetic, rather than longevity) and the film's protagonist also seeks to cross the divide that his birthright is supposed to deny him. Similarly, he is pursued by law enforcement officers after being wrongly identified as having committed a murder.

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

On September 15, 2011, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a suit was filed by attorneys on behalf of speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison that the film's plot was based on his award-winning 1965 short story "‍ '​Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman".

The suit, naming New Regency and director Andrew Niccol as well as a number of anonymous John Does, appears to base its claim on the similarity that both the completed film along with Ellison's story concern a dystopian future in which people have a set amount of time to live which can be revoked, given certain pertaining circumstances by a recognized authority known as a Timekeeper. Initially, the suit demanded an injunction against the film's release;[11] however, Ellison later altered his suit to instead ask for screen credit[12] before ultimately dropping the suit, with both sides releasing the following joint statement: "After seeing the film In Time, Harlan Ellison decided to voluntarily dismiss the Action. No payment or screen credit was promised or given to Harlan Ellison. The parties wish each other well, and have no further comment on the matter."[13]

Similar works[edit]

Many of the elements of In Time can be found in the 1987 short film The Price of Life,[14] made by Chanticleer Films. Its basic premise and storyline are so similar that In Time has been called an unacknowledged remake of the earlier film.[15] The Price of Life was a 38-minute short film (story by Stephen Tolkin and Michel Monteaux) in which a time account is physically linked to every infant at birth, with death automatic when the balance drops to zero. An elite upper-class is portrayed as living hundreds of years or more. The protagonist is given a certain amount of time as an infant, and as young boy adds days and years to his time account by buying valuables from people and selling them to visiting tourists from the rich enclave. After his sister dies after gambling away her time, the protagonist (now a young man) sets out on a journey to the enclave of "the Old Ones" in order to save the life of his mother, who is (literally) running out of time. He gets there and meets a beautiful older woman who co-opts him into the immortal lifestyle.

The movie Logan's Run (1976) depicts a city where everyone is destroyed when they reach the age of 30. The protagonists are Sandmen who hunt Runners trying to avoid destruction.[16]

It also shares many of the elements of the short story "Time is Money" by Lee Falk, which was published in 1975.[17]


The film received generally mixed reviews from critics, with praise over the originality and cast performances, but had criticism for the lack of character development; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 36% of 152 critics gave the movie a positive review, with a rating average of 5.2 out of 10. The website's consensus reads, "In Time‍ '​s intriguing premise and appealing cast are easily overpowered by the blunt, heavy-handed storytelling."[18] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 53 based on 36 reviews.[19] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B-minus" on an A+ to F scale.[20] Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review with 3 stars out of 4, noting that the "premise is damnably intriguing", but "a great deal of this film has been assembled from standard elements".[21] Henry Barnes noted that Will is "one of the 99%" and calls the character "a Rolex Robin Hood".[22]


  1. ^ It is not actually a full year. When the countdown starts, it switches from 1 year over to 51 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours, 59 mins and 59 seconds, which equals only 364 days.


  1. ^ "IN TIME (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 27, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Puss in Boots' to stomp on competition". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ "In Time (2011)". Box Office Mojo. 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  4. ^ Rich, Katey (2010-11-01). "I'm. mortal Retitled Now, Adds Alex Pettyfer And Matt Bomer To Cast". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  5. ^ Gallagher, Brian (2010-07-12). "Amanda Seyfried Signs on to I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  6. ^ Douglas, Edward (2010-07-27). "Justin Timberlake Leading I'm.mortal?". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  7. ^ Gallagher, Brian (2010-08-09). "Cillian Murphy to Star in I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  8. ^ "Timberlake and Seyfried Spotted Filming Their New Thriller". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  9. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2010-08-09). "Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy in Talks to Join 'I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  10. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (2010-12-22). "TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: 'True Grit' cinematographer Roger Deakins". Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  11. ^ Gardner, Eriq. "Harlan Ellison Sues Claiming Fox's 'In Time' Rips Off Sci-Fi Story (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. September 15, 2011
  12. ^ "Ellison wants 'In Time' concessions — only asks for credit?". August 26, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Ellison drops lawsuit after watching In Time". 1 December 2011. 
  14. ^ The Price of Life at Vimeo
  15. ^ Bryan, Steven (2011-10-25). "Does 'In Time' Owe a Debt to 'American Playhouse's' 'The Price of Life'? - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  16. ^ Eric Volkman (October 27, 2011). "In Time (2011) -vs- Logan’s Run (1976)". Movie Smackdown. 
  17. ^ "Film: In Time". TV Tropes. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  18. ^ "In Time (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  19. ^ "In Time Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  20. ^ Finke, Nikki (October 30, 2011). "Snow Ices Box Office: ‘Puss In Boots’ #1, ‘Paranormal’ #2, ‘In Time’ #3, ‘Rum Diary’ #4". PMC. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  21. ^ "In Time". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  22. ^ Henry Barnes (November 4, 2011). "In Time – review". The Guardian. 

External links[edit]