I got a bit of a surprise the other day; I was sitting down to watch X-Men: First Class (which I'll probably talk about after this), and they showed a trailer for In Time. I hadn't heard of it when it was in the theater, but I was immediately intrigued. More than that, I was pretty sure I'd seen it coming in the guide for Cinemax.
So I recorded it off Cinemax, and finally watched it Friday.
What's it about? It's an interesting, dystopian future earth where people have been engineered to live until twenty-five, at which point they have a clock counting down from one year. If that clock reaches zero, they die, immediately. But they can get more time; in fact, time is the only currency of exchange.
I'll come back to it in a minute, but that last part is the idea I found most interesting.
But the first part is kind of interesting as well; you live to twenty-five, and if you do nothing, you die in one year. But if you can keep earning more time, through whatever means, you can live forever without aging.
I'm not at all sure that makes sense, particularly from a biological perspective, but it's certainly intriguing. But the writers did realize that, with that possibility, only a few people could take advantage of it. If everyone could, there would be massive overcrowding and such.
Of course, that ramification makes the whole thing become rather a metaphor for our times, with a small percentage of people at the top (living forever, in this case), and a vast underclass. It also reflects it by talking about social darwinism, the GOPs current drumbeat (even if they deny it).
Our hero, of course, comes from these morlocks. He is given a century by a very old man who has, literally, grown tired of living. Of course, the police think he took the time (one small problem I had with it was that it was far too easy to take someone else's time), and hunt for him.
Meanwhile, he goes uptown to see how he can disrupt the system.
The way he does it is fairly interesting, although another small problem I had with the movie was how little security there was for establishments holding millenia of time.
At the end, it had a bit of a Fight Club feel to it (without the explosions); very intriguing, all the way around.
To get back to the time as currency idea, though, I found that a fascinating concept. Think about it. If you're going to work somehow, how many hours do you need to earn to make it worth your while? What about if you needed to support a wife (or other family) as well? How many hours is a roof over your head worth? What kind of entertainment would be worth giving up hours of your life (in more ways than one)? How much more do you hate your plumber, when you not only need to pay him, but are literally taking time out of your life to wait for him? What about getting deliveries?
That starts getting painful.
Then start thinking about how labor disputes would go. Of course, if everyone stays twenty-five, that has a number of interesting side effects as well. Health care isn't nearly as much of an issue. Pregnancy is an even bigger problem than now (especially if, like my mom, you end up on total bed rest for the term). Biological clock becomes quite fungible (although, theoretically, you could end up with women running out of ova at some point, even being completely healthy).
Education becomes really weird. How does technology move forward? While some progress would certainly be made, most of the big stuff is started by people with PhDs. How many people are going to go for a PhD with such a limited lifespan? Conversely, how many people are going to pay for someone else to get that PhD?
One of the things that needs to happen, if you're going to create such an oppresive society, is that something needs to be done to distract people from this kind of misery. Otherwise, they won't work, and the entire system shuts down. To go all the way back to Rome, "bread and circuses", or some such. That was one thing that was completely missing.
Of course, that leads to another ramification. Think about what would happen with sports leagues, if the players didn't physically age. I'm not sure what the answer is there, but it would definitely be different than what we've got.
As I implied, there were definitely some flaws in execution (one of which is that two different women, literally running for their lives, did not take their high heels off. Are these the stupidest women ever? Certainly in the running (pun not intended)), but the concepts were quite interesting. Definitely worth a look.