It’s a race against time for two young fugitives in a society where time is the currency and there is never enough of it in the philosophical action thriller “In Time.” Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried with Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy and Alex Pettyfer, “In Time” clocks in a world where which people stop aging at 25. From that point onward they have to buy, borrow or steal time in order to stay alive. Every second counts. For the poor like Timberlake’s Will Salas, life is a constant struggle for survival, while the wealthy have enough time to live forever.
Falsely accused of murder and on the run, Will (Timberlake) meets the rich and beautiful Sylvia (Seyfried). Together the charismatic pair is trying to bring down the corrupt system. The world created by director Andrew Niccol in “In Time” is corrupt and unjust. For the poor it is a daily battle to acquire enough time to stay alive. The rich on the other hand have centuries and can potentially live forever. There is a yawning gap between the haves and have-nots.
Sylvia and Will are running for their lives – not just to find enough time to make it through another day, but from the Timekeepers out to capture the fugitive duo. “Timekeepers keep the system running; they actually keep time,” says Niccol. “And our principal antagonist, Timekeeper Leon, is not really a villain. He is just a bureaucrat, an authority figure who has allegiance to no one, rich or poor. His only allegiance is to minutes and seconds. He believes (or has to believe) that you are either working for the system, or you need to be eliminated.”
For the role of the Timekeeper Leon the filmmakers cast another “old soul,” Cillian Murphy. Murphy acknowledges the circumstances of his character – “he’s a cop charged with keeping this system going” – but the actor finds the deeper layers of Leon more compelling to play: “What’s great about the character is that he is a contradiction, because he’s actually from that same ghetto where Will lives. Deep down, he knows that it’s a corrupt system, and yet he’s decided to accept that and pursue his goal of keeping time. He’s a very kinetic and focused character, and for him it’s just about constantly moving forward. I think he’s suppressed all of his past. What I liked about the writing is that Will and Leon, they’re the flip side of each other. It’s just different paths having been taken. This is the path he’s chosen, and he suppresses all of the misgivings and issues he has with this system. He’s tried to leave them behind over the course of his life.”
As with the classic archetypal chase – the hunter and the hunted – so beautifully realized in, for example, The Fugitive, a bond forms as the chase quickens. Murphy adds, “Not only does Leon realize he’s from the same side of the tracks as Will, but there is a sense of history; Leon knew Will’s father. I think over the course of the story, they gain a respect for each other.”
Part of the menace of Dayton, apart from the possibility of timing out should one not amass a day’s wages, is the presence of Minute Men, who are thieves out to steal time. Alex Pettyfer portrays Fortis, the leader of the Minute Men – a refined 75-year-old psychopath (who of course looks 25). “Because of the character’s age, he’s quite articulate,” says Niccol. “He has more sophisticated taste in clothing than a younger man would have. That makes him seem different from the younger characters.”
Pettyfer offers, “Fortis is a bruiser, though not without a certain elegance. And he’s just a complete psycho, and crazy-hungry for time. I think the scariest thing about him is that he feels he has nothing to lose. He just doesn’t care. He’s just now gone completely insane and is on a rampage for more time.”
The actor enjoyed his trip to the dark side, finding it a liberating experience: “You can’t do everything you want playing a villain, but you have room to create. And I think that’s the most attractive thing about playing a character like Fortis; it’s that you can build so many layers with him.”
Riveting action thriller “In Time” opens October 28 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.