Timecop (1994)

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Timecop (1994)

Post  BoG on Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:21 pm


JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME in TIMECOP also starring
RON SILVER  Like a Star @ heaven  MIA SARA  Like a Star @ heaven BRUCE McGILL  Like a Star @ heaven GLORIA REUBEN  Like a Star @ heaven  Directed by PETER HYAMS

For me, this falls inferior to the best time travel films (THE TIME MACHINE; TIME AFTER TIME, etc.). As a Van Damme vehicle, it's typical. So, we end up with a rather generic action sci-fi piece, from my standpoint, some of it copying the tone of TERMINATOR 2 (1991), which probably influenced many sci-fi action films in the nineties.  It's not bad; it just doesn't rise above the mediocre.
I think the complexity which someone else may gleam from this is that it switches to different time periods: it starts with a short scene during the Civil War - a dreary one with gunfire. Then there are some scenes in 1994, when Van Damme's character loses his wife to paid assassins; then we switch to a scene in 1929 - the start of the Depression; and finally, to the future of 2004 (now, the past), when time travel is a reality to be regulated (by TEC, a new government agency - the Time Enforcement Commission).

I was amused by the efforts here to show futuristic automobiles - 2004 is now over a decade in the past; according to this film, we should all be driving tank-like vehicles now. I'd forgotten that this was based on a comic book; it shows - much of this is very simplistic.
One example of this simplicity is a statement made, offhand, near the beginning - a bureaucrat states that time travel to the future is not possible, because that hasn't happened yet. So, we're left with time travel to the past; we just have to accept this limitation and be done with it. Then, there's the warning that two identical objects cannot occupy the same space; i.e., two versions of the same person better not touch each other. However, a person who is 10 years older is not identical to his past self, is he? Also, even if a person physically touches another, aren't they still separated by molecule-sized space? Whatever.
This film is also stunted by character-driven limitations, mostly due to Van Damme's limitations. Supposedly, as a time travel agent, he should be tormented by thoughts of changing history in terms of saving his wife. But, I never got this sense; at one point, his new partner (Reuben) asks him about whether he ever considered this; he gives her a look - it's a blank look and we don't get anything out of this. That's the extent of this supposed dilemma.
On the positive side, there are good performances by Silver and McGill. And, Mia Sara is beguiling. Reuben is kind of exciting. Silver, especially, excels as the slimy villain, a politician gone mad. Watching this now, I'm struck by his statements of how elections are won by money, in light of the election of '08. His scenes where his older self meets with his younger version are very entertaining and Silver conveys the concept that he is a decade more corrupt, more callous. It feels like this would go with any of us, to varying degrees, if we were to meet our younger selves; we'd tell ourselves, "hey, wise up! Stop being the naive fool, fool!" These are the best scenes in the film.

The conclusion returns to simplistic nonsense. Van Damme has
Spoiler:
succeeded in restoring his wife and now has a son. But, does he remember the past 10 years of life with them? The story suggests that no, he does not; he seems surprised to find them at his home. This tells me that I should be sad for him - he has no memories of a life with them; yet, I can't be sure;
it's all vague and uncertain.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

There was a direct-to-video sequel to this, TIMECOP 2: THE BERLIN DECISION, in 2003, starring Jason Scott Lee. I'd forgotten this until I noticed this film on the web. I was more disturbed to find that I have the DVD of this sequel, had apparently watched it, and still had no memory of it. There was also, I think, a TV series in 1997; I have no memory of that either. There must be some kind of evil time travel involved here.  silent
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