Interesting idea: what if "time is money" was put to the test? What would the rich do with their time and what would it mean for the poor to have so little?
At first I was a little distressed at the idea that time would run against you since the day you were born but fortunately the film shows at some point that babies (even those born in poor districts) have a clock showing "0": the clock starts ticking at 25. What do people do until they are 25? Well poor people, even poor children as shown in the film, have to "beg for time" or I suppose work in some form to "earn their living" even if they do not die from their time-clock running out, nothing tells us they could not die from starvation or homelessness. As for rich people, it was clearly shown that nothing changes much from before their birthday: party, party and party some more. I was wondering how the people are rich in this imaginary future but I guess the rules are the same as today: capital allows them to get large dividends from their investments thus allowing them to "spend little time" (which they own in such large amounts) actually working, whereas poor people work as everybody does today as proletarians who earn their living by spending their life in factories and shops. The mother of Will Salas did say, if I am not mistaken, that she worked in the garment district.
But apart from the predators like the "Minute Men" who haunts the poor districts for a "survival of the fittest" paranoid nightmare, I noticed there was no depiction of social services and police forces: if the timekeepers' primary task is indeed to "follow the time" and ensure that no imbalance disrupts the system, why would a police force would be unnecessary to keep surely numerous disgruntled people from throwing civil unrest? Well if demonstrators today can manage to not earn any money while they protest, any demonstration in the conditions depicted would be literally short lived if not for a mechanism or provision to stop their clock in case of demonstration. This does in effect precludes any rights to demonstrate to people living day by day and only the middle-class with time spared would have the means to waste it like that as it is often the case in slightly to brutally unfair economic systems where a middle class effectively prevents the poorest from uprising against the richest for fear of their meager savings.
What about the media? Poor people seemed to have little access or interest in any media at all (no televisions or newspapers were present and as ubiquitous as today) and rich people did not appear to have interest in anything at all but their partying. It seemed that the media were controlled by the rich (surprising would you not say?) since the only depiction of the actions of the protagonists were reported in negative terms. The "big brother is watching you" theme was touched on several occasions with the use of street cameras and billboards showing the face of the criminals in the districts but was otherwise not pushed very far: the Timekeepers did not seem to have any sure way of locating somebody and relied instead on files and records and human intelligence (as did the Minute Men). The apparent fear that seemingly constrained rich or poor people could have referred more to the abilities of the agents in regard to one's clock: sequestration of time, interrogation, capacity to investigate on the premises and foremost the authorization to bear firearms and to discharge in the face of danger.
I have trouble characterizing the actions of the protagonists: a poor boy with high abilities to get by in a poker game or in a "time clock arm wrestling" against all odds and a father he barely knew yet holds in high esteem and who apparently was also known by the Timekeeper Leon for its rebellion against the system, and a rich spoiled girl who smothered in her uneventful and constrained life and became sick of her father's greed and subjugation to the system. To me a Stockholm syndrome was clearly at play ("capture-bonding" in the face of grave danger). Their actions of robbing banks clearly evokes to me a Bonnie and Clyde type of desperate adventure of love and rebellion against the system. Yet their clear intentions to not only profit from the system but totally disrupt it by giving their loot to the poor was pictured in explicit terms several times, adding an element of Robin Hood's revolt against an unfair system set as a standard. What surprised me was that their actions were completely isolated from any propaganda or networking for the establishment of a resistance and the build up of the general population's support: it seemed that they gave to whoever was on the premises of their crime and did not intend to distribute it in any fair way at first. When they hit the jackpot in terms of robbery treasure, they did arrange to donate it to the only social organization depicted in the whole film: the Mission. They did it in a strange way by holding the missionary at gun point whereas it would have been clear to anybody who would have performed such a donation and the missionary would have certainly not worked for the Timekeepers or prevented them in any way to the pursuit of their goal.
The absence of any clear cut way they would have found to totally and globally disrupt the system bothered me a little. Another thing was that the Timekeepers' relentlessness and persistence was very limited to the agent named Leon whereas the other agents seemed mere underlings and not tenacious at all, a fact that was proved during a pursuit on foot where the heroes found themselves nearly caught off guard. The pursuit tuned into a face-off and a shoot-out against the dominant action figures.
All in all the film was great food for thought and more than a mere string of action scenes. Photography was masterfully executed and music was performed in perfect rhythm with the pictures. And alternative ending on the theme of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" would not have been unwelcomed.