My wife and I made the mistake of getting the movie “In Time” from the library recently. Why? Because as I was telling one of my friends about an idea I had for a short story, he informed me that it sounded a lot like that movie.
“Darn,” I said then.
“Double darn,” I say now that I’ve seen it. Well, now that I’ve seen forty minutes of it, anyway.
For those who haven’t seen heard of “In Time,” it stars Justin Timberlake and is set in the not-too-distant future. All currency has been replaced with time. People are genetically engineered to stop aging at twenty-five, at which time their clock starts ticking down one year. If you wish to survive for longer than one year, you must work in order to earn more time. Timberlake plays a poor working man with dreams of bringing down the system. He gets the chance when a rich man who tires of life (he’s been alive for over a century) gives Timberlake his time and tells him to use it wisely.
That’s the premise. My idea, the one that I shared with my friend who told me about the film, was similar in so far as lifespan was used as a form of currency. In my story, I got into the science of what makes people age (current science posits that it has something to do with the length and degradations of part of a person’s chromosomes called “telomeres“) and the people were able to trade their youth for money in the same way that people can currently trade their blood and plasma for money (which I have done and of which I am a fan).
After hearing my friend’s description of “In Time”, I changed the premise of my story substantially (and since I’m trying to sell it to publishers, I’m not going to divulge any of the plot here). But I still hadn’t seen the film. So I borrowed it from my local library.
At least I didn’t pay for it. No matter how good the idea of the film was, and I really liked the possibilities of using lifespan as a form of currency, the execution was quite poor. And since one of the primary messages of the film was a warning against people wasting time, my wife and I clicked it off after forty minutes.
Hoping that the film was based on some book that may have been written better, I just looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently, there are a number of books that boast similar themes and one that threatened a lawsuit against the filmmakers for copyright infringement (the suit was dropped after the author saw the film). Anyway, I may now read some of those books, but I won’t be recommending the film. After all, books are almost always better than their movies.
In summary, don’t waste your time on “In Time”.