If You Liked… In Time

Andrew Niccol’s concept sci-fi, whilst being critically mauled by most, is perhaps not quite as bad as the majority of reviews are saying. Sure, the dialogue is often truly terrible, contriving exposition that elsewhere has been introduced quite nicely. And yes, there are plot holes that several London buses could fit through (not least of which is why Amanda Seyfried is always wearing heels). However Niccol has come up with a concept that is both relevant and engaging, and the whole thing moves along at such a pace that it’s an enjoyable two hours, and there are plenty more films to check out if you did like it.

Equilibrium (2002, Kurt Wimmer)

Equilibrium fits into the category of fun high-concept sci-fi that you know, deep down, is actually a little bit rubbish. It’s about a world in which emotion has been banned, as well as anything that evokes emotion. One man, played by Christian Bale, stops taking his anti-emotion pills and a whole world is opened to him as he realises the injustices and horrors of what the oppressive government is doing to keep everyone in order. His only problem is that he is an agent within the system that is doing the oppressing, so he is constantly being watched.

Like In Time, it doesn’t hold up well to any kind of plot scrutiny. For instance, if Taye Diggs’ agent is also working for the system and is actually taking his medication, why does he always appear to be so angry (surely a strong emotion)? And how exactly does the Gun-Kata (director Kurt Wimmer’s invention) work? Surely there are more efficient ways of shooting people? Yet like In Time, these limitations don’t matter too much because the whole is just so entertaining. It’s got some great action sequences, and a man’s face getting sliced off in a truly comical moment. It’s a brainless, watch with pizza and beer, type sci-fi film.

Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)

In Time, for all its stupidity, is actually also a surprisingly relevant assault on that most current of enemies: the 1%. It’s a rage against capitalism that uses its central concept (reasonably) intelligently. One of the ultimate anti-capitalist films, however, is David Fincher’s Fight Club. Or at least, that’s one way of interpreting it. Most people know the story of how our emasculated narrator (Ed Norton) has his life turned around by the anarchistic philosophies of the mysterious Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). It’s been written about so much, and has reached iconic levels with people of a certain generation, but don’t let that disguise the fact that many of the questions it poses are still relevant today.

Ikiru (1952, Akira Kurosawa)

One of the smartest points of In Time is in the detail that the people with the least time run everywhere, because walking is a waste of time. It makes you ask yourself what you would do with your time if you knew you only had a limited time of it left. Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece also poses this question, except this time it is a man who is diagnosed with stomach cancer, and realises the emptiness of his life up until that point. What follows this revelation is one of the most moving and curiously uplifting dramas ever.

Bearing in mind, this isn’t actually that close to In Time in any way. In fact its a sombre, audaciously structured tale of one man discovering what it means to live. It’s a thousand times better than Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List, largely for the fact that it isn’t nearly as shallow as that world-touring ‘comedy’. Not exactly a fun watch by any stretch of the imagination, but essential cinema nonetheless.

About The Author


Nat (or Nathanael as he calls himself when he wants to sound a bit classier) is a student based in Edinburgh who watches far too many animated films for a guy his age. He even has a blog. dedicated to the subject. When he's not doing that, he's the film editor of The Journal, Edinburgh and a committed member of King's Church Edinburgh. He likes Terrence Malick far, far too much.

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