Timecop (1994)

You can count the number of decent time travel movies on two hands and,
unfortunately, TIMECOP isn't one of them.  But don't blame Jean-Claude
Van Damme-- director Peter Hyams deserves all the credit for this only
OK trip back to the future.

Based on the Dark Horse comic series, the story introduces the Time
Enforcement Agency, created in 1994 to police existing (!) time travel
technology.  The agency's stance is simple:  no one goes back to get
rich or get even.  Cut to 2004 and top agent Max Walker (Van Damme) has
just returned from 1929, with his former partner in chains for trying to
make a deal in the Depression.  The verdict is guilt and the sentence is
death-- but not before Max learns of a bigger conspiracy involving a
U.S. senator (Ron Silver) who's travelling time to fund his run for the

What sounds confusing is really a gas, courtesy of a smart script by
comics writer Mark Verheiden.  Lay people may have a tough time
navigating the narrative, but the story makes perfect sense to anyone
raised on Marvel Comics and "The Fantastic Four." Verheiden also
includes a double does of humor, ranging from a slam on Van Damme's
accent to a virtual reality gag that's virtually worth the price of

Too bad the direction isn't.

Peter Hyams is an old sci-fi hack who directed OUTLAND, 2010, and O.J.
Simpson in CAPRICORN ONE.  But TIMECOP gets away from him and the result
is a goofy tone with zero realism (nobody can shoot to hit) and too many
(poorly filmed) fight scenes.  In fact, most of the action sequences are
pretty pathetic.  The high low-point is a absurd finale that has three
or four or fifteen characters climbing all over a rain-swept roof.  At

And what's with those silly looking "future cars?" Is someone remaking
SLEEPER on a nearby lot?

Acting abilites are all over the place.  Both Ron Silver and Bruce
McGill (as the TEA head) are in top form.  Van Damme needs work, no duh,
but he's three times better than costar Mia Sara, who plays his wife.

TIMECOP wraps with a happy ending you can see a year off.  Missing: a
humorous coda explaining just how the happy ending is supposed to work.
(Rated "R"/98 min.)

BOTTOM LINE:  Time travel is always a blast, even with poorly staged
sequences of Jean-Claude Van Damme as a kickboxing "time cop." Think of
a comic book with good writing and lousy art.

Grade: B-

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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