The system has been in place for well over 100 years, one would think that in that time someone would have figured out how to hack the system, counterfeit time, or surgically remove the mechanism which kills you when your time hits 0.
Who says they haven't? The Timekeepers are there for a reason. Stopping counterfeiting is likely one of their tasks, just like the Real Life US Secret Service.
While modern money can be traced to various origins and banks, we never see any system in place to detect stolen or counterfeit time. Once it's stolen, tough luck.
Also: Why was this system even implanted in the underclasses if the wealthy wanted immortality to themselves? Why not just put a huge price on the technology?
Because the illusion that everyone has a shot at immortality is what keeps the people in line. This was stated outright.
A bunch of the movie's plot holes involves the time zone borders which the character need to pass to get from one zone to another.
The Time Keeper could have phoned the Border and tell them to deny passage to Will's car after he's taken Sylvia hostage.
Even after Will and Sylvia have reached Dayton, the Time Keeper fail to know where they are, and only find out when Will phone them. This is ridiculous, after it is established that they can track the movement of "time" when they notice Will moving from Dayton to New Greenwich. This is also what made it possible for Will and Sylvia to travel back to New Greenwich and kidnap Weis. Apparently the surveillance technology used to track the movement of time is some sort of forgotten superpower.
The border's security is extremely inadequate. The toll booth appears to be made out of cardboard, and there seem to be no armed guards.
The Time Banks also have very poor security, which makes one wonder why no one thought of robbing them before Will and Sylvia did.
There are those little gray boxes you can upload time to - you would think that everyone would have one in secure storage and only leave the house with enough to last them a day or so to at least deter theft.
The poor may not have access to storage secure enough to make it worth it. Also, the devices themselves may be expensive, explaining why only the rich, businesses, government, and criminal organizations use them regularly. And of course, you saw how well not keeping much time on you worked out for Raymond.
Obviously people have to depend on someone taking care of them, until they reach age 25, cuz until then their 1 Year time is frozen and no one can take their time or give them time (I think). Children can't buy anything.
At the start of the film there's a brief moment when a little girl asks Will for a couple of minutes which he transfers to a small metal object (probably a capsule). Apparently children can spend small amounts of time using a capsule. But still, you wonder what would happen to orphans.
It's not stated that they can't work for time through capsules. There are two major reasons they may have designed the system to start at age 25: to prevent the farming of children for time, or to allow people in the ghettos to procreate at least once and contribute to the workforce a bit before dying.
Actually they are given 25 years to age naturally, you wouldn't want a world of people who look like children. The clock's activation seems to be what also activates the anti-aging gene splicing, based on the girl's dialog about when her clock started: "I looked in the mirror, as I guess everyone does. This is what I'll look like forever."
Since people have the chance at living forever with the current technology, it makes sense that no "newer" technologies, other than those concerning the life extension, would be developed. After all, since now you could possibly live forever, what more do you need. (This is also probably why the rich guy kills himself.) As Bruce Willis said in Death Becomes Her, "and then what?" This reminds this troper of The Twilight Zone episode "A Nice Place to Visit," where the crook's "Heaven" turns out to be "the other place" because he just gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. What kind of life is it to always have to watch out for accidents and assassinations? Pretty lousy.
When Will buys a sports car, the dealer presumes it to be for display only. Longevity has apparently made the people of New Greenwich afraid of driving.
The time units are the greatest social control device ever made. In actuality, the truly powerful actually have unlimited time. However, any mass uprising could potentially be eliminated instantaneously through forcing the watches to hit zero. The reason why this isn't done in the movie? The powerful do not want this capability known yet until they have gathered all that they feel worthy. Then they will force the units on everyone else, and then make two groups. Rich and poor. And press "Kill the poor" when they no longer need the labor force.
In Time revolves around a society in which people stop aging at 25. We see rich people who are very, very old, and Weis is 90 years old. He has a daughter who is only 27. Unless his wife is far younger than him (impossible to tell in this world) his wife had Sylvia at a very old age, so women probably have children when they're older. Where's the horror? The reason that older women are at a greater risk for Down syndrome is because a woman's eggs are exposed to wear and tear, plus a greater risk of being exposed to mutagens in the environment, which puts them at a greater risk for non-disjunction during later stages of meiosis. The Applied Phlebotinum that keeps everyone young might prevent the damage from typical wear-and-tear, but what about mutagens? We don't see anyone with disabilities in this world, and so I get two impressions from this: Either all babies (or at least all rich babies) are born from artificial means, which means there is probably a lot of eugenics (in the form of only selecting the very fit egg and sperm) going on (well, the world is pretty much filled with The Beautiful Elite) or, even worse, all babies with genetic or chromosomal disorders (or birth injuries) are either aborted, abandoned, segregated, or even killed at birth.
Since aging (post-maturity) happens due to gradual genetic damage as cells replicate, any method to stop aging would have to do so by preventing the damage from occurring. It's plausible that any such technique would also prevent damage due to mutagens; some sort of permanent "this is what your DNA is supposed to be" marker. It's difficult to say, of course, since the movie explains virtually nothing about how its premise works.
Maybe the government issues time as welfare or as salary for government employees? Since people "spend" 24 hours per day, at least 24 hours per day per person have to be added through such means, unless the average lifespan is around 26. Hey, more Fridge Horror...
Sounds about right. Will wasn't doing that much better than that, and he had some business sense.
We know exactly how he got it: usury. Sure, he may have made some of it off of legitimate investments and financing the construction of factories and such, but most likely the better part of his fortune was made off of making short-term, high interest loans to the poor.
With only getting an additional year at the age of 25, and how hard it is to get time, when you have a baby, the chances are slim to none that you will live to see that child become an adult.
The pawn shop employees were REALLY compassionate souls. If they would have waited another minute, they would could have simply kept the earrings for themselves without having to pay anyone anything.
There may be a close watch on piles of dead bodies outside of pawn shops. Either from authorities or the free market: such shops probably make a large portion of their living from people in the exact same situation, so a shop probably wouldn't want to get a reputation for not actually doing business with the desperate.
There probably does not exist anyone capable of maintaining the system. If there was, it would risk someone using this knowledge to produce counterfeit time, which would be identical in every way to real time. If only a single child-sized capsule were cracked to send time without subtracting its own, passed around in secret, it would destroy the entire economy. Therefore if anything breaks, it has to be thrown away. How long before all their systems fall apart?
If a person is born with a mutation that glitches their time reading, any glitch at all, either it kills them, or the timekeepers have to permanently incarcerate or kill them to preserve society.
The idea that time must always flow from one wallet to the other and can never be created out of thin air was very reminiscent of...Bitcoin.
Some of the rich surely started out as technicians - if you were a high-level time-counter tech when this society was forming, wouldn't you program your own counter to reset to 9999 years every time you woke up? The pre-immortality rich would have to allow some of this behavior, because they need the techs, and the two classes would be natural allies. This also explains where the rich's time comes from - legalized counterfeiting within the upper classes, with the illusion of an actual economy preserved to keep the peasants working the scut jobs.
Isn't it likely that incest would be rampant among a class of wealthy, eternally youthful immortals?
What's to be done? That is, even if someone benevolent, wise and disinterested came to be in charge, how could they possibly make the system just? I see 4 possibilities given what we know they can do, besides the system they already have, which many obviously don't like. (1) Go back to the way it was, let everyone age like they do now. That essentially means denying care for sickness and weakness when it is available and doable. Basically like denying a cure for cancer if we had one. An unethical decision to say the least. (2) Remove the timers and let everyone be immortal. The movie points out why that's a problem; where would you put everyone? Alternatively, assuming everyone still needs food, they'd run out of it sooner or later and many people would die of starvation, which is arguably more cruel than dying of expired time. (3) Let everyone be immortal, but prevent anyone (legally or genetically) from having any more children. Oppressive, and would result in stagnation of culture, innovation, and happiness. (4) The most just system I can think of is to ration the same exact amount of time to everyone, say 100 years, outlaw/disable time transfer, and go back to normal money for commerce. This means everyone gets to look and be as healthy as a 25-year-old for 76 years, but then you die. Arguably better than what they have or what we have, but it also means perfectly healthy people have to die for a fairly arbitrary reason. And more WMG-ily, (5) Let everyone be immortal, let them have children, but colonize other planets. Maybe they have the technology to do that by then. But it would only last for so long. It's a paradox. The technology to cure aging seems to be something that we are ethically bound to do if we can, but it leads to the world being a horrible place to live, and to the inevitability of unethical decisions one way or another.
The problem with the time/money system as shown in the film is that it is implicitly not capitalism, but a centrally planned economy - there should be myriad sources of goods and services and just as many sources of income, so the oligarchs can't just arbitrarily increase the cost of living or decrease incomes. Supply and demand means that there should be places to get cheaper (if perhaps lower-quality) goods and services, and better-paying (if perhaps more hazardous) jobs. When the guy at the kiosk says "You want coffee or you want to reminisce?", customers should be able to tell him to fuck off. But there is no other place to get coffee, and that means that's not a store, that's a bread line. When Will says that his units are up and the pay desk says "So's the quota", there should be somewhere else for him to work. There is no other place, so it's a collective farm. In Time is not Reagan America, it's Soviet Russia.
Or it's capitalist Taiwan (though that doesn't make it exclusive certainly)—the situation you described, particularly the limited fields of work available to the population (and limited sources of income), and where deliberate price shifts can and usually do happen faster than any sort of mathematical tendency towards "correction" is a common phenomenon throughout the historic developing world. Among said nations, those recovering from war (or post-colonial states, which are often one in the same) were plagued by shortages of food and consumer good options for decades (in Taiwan's case, well in to the 1980s): being a free-market state doesn't mean twenty coffee shops spring up overnight, being a rich free-market state does. You wouldn't find unlimited jobs, or unlimited grocer options, in postwar Taiwan (or modern day Haiti), as the massive corporate conglomerations of the 1970s through 1990s didn't get that way by competing with each other to sell coffee at the best price. Unless you're going to claim they're actually communist states, which is a hard sell.
What's the difference between a communist state where the government is the only source of goods and income and a corporate state where a single corporation is the only source of goods and income? In either one there is no competition and the consumer has to swallow or die.
The "quota" line especially reminded me of production quotas in command economies. Of course, you could also say it's a continent-spanning company town, which amounts to the same thing.
Some sort of mix of options (3) and (4) would probably be the least unethical way to deal with it. Basically, you have to choose between immortality and having children. If you have a kid, then you forfeit immortality and age from that point on. If you're willing to never have a kid, you can live forever. Still a sucky system, but it's basically giving people a choice at least.
Something bugs me about the whole Overpopulation excuse for not letting everyone be immortal. ...Space is INFINITE. Yea not every place we can live is gonna be awesome and Earth-like immediately, but you can't just have people stuff it in their pants temporarily or send extra people into space to colonize and terraform other worlds or something? Why did everyone stop scientific progress after inventing immortality?
You make interstellar travel and colonization sound like a much simpler thing that it actually is.
You have immortality. Imagine what some of the great minds could have figured out if the clock never ran out on them (and they kept on that line of work, of course). It wouldn't be a matter of 'if', just 'when'. Also 'learn how to colonize the universe so we don't have to start killing people' is a pretty good motivation.
Interstellar travel might not be an available solution. Either it's impossible for some reason unknown today, or the in-universe technology is not yet sufficient.
There is no incentive for the rich to do the research for such technology, except perhaps as a last resort to stave off boredom. The poor have neither time nor resources to do it. "Not killing peasants" is rarely a serious motivation even in our own history. Even if they DID spot a suitable world out there, a page of very simple physical calculations will show how mind-blowingly costly interstellar travel is, and their tech appears to exceed our own only in DNA manipulation.
The potential immortality from the clock system has made the only people with the resources to accomplish such a task too risk-averse to attempt it. Space travel is very dangerous (there's a greater than 1% chance of dying on a routine flight into low-earth orbit), and even Apollo XIII was far enough out that if they weren't able to solve their problems themselves (with only instructions from NASA, rather than a rescue team), the crew would have died in space. A one-way trip to a distant planet in which any number of things we haven't even thought of could go wrong? No risk-averse immortal is going to even consider that.
The option exists that the rich could fund the invention of deep-space travel, and then use the poor to test it out. Just pay them in a huge amount of time, give them enough physical resources (eg. food/water) to survive the trip, and see what happens.
How common is suicide in this culture? Surely many of the poor eventually lose interest in running on this endless treadmill, especially given how probable it seems that a person gets to watch his family and friends die on it. Even among the rich, the ennui-based suicide, like the rich fellow at the beginning, is probably fairly common as people simply run out of new experiences and get bored. Suicide may end virtually all wealthy lives after a few centuries. Imagine all the lower-class lives sacrificed so that a few elite can live, say, three centuries instead of one, before willfully throwing away the life purchased at such massive human cost.
That would explain why Weiss is so ruthless. He has a million years in storage, but he's constantly focused on making more just to give him something to do.
There was no reason to design this tech to have no protection from thieves stealing your time with such ease other than malice. And we see many times that there is a mental control mechanism in place to choose how much time to give and take, so it is quite doubtful that it couldn't be done.
Will gives the million-year capsule to a little girl to deliver to the time-line charity, because only someone under 25 whose clock isn't active can be trusted to pass it on rather than use it for themselves.
Certainly that was the reasoning behind it, but even someone that young probably has enough savvy about her to just keep it and use it when she gets older. Who knows how many older siblings, friends and relatives she has seen die?