Time Chasers (1994) (part 3 of 3)
Instead of going to cover Nick’s demo, the past version of Lisa is assigned to report on the crash of a small plane. When she gets there, the police tell her there was a body inside, burned beyond recognition, meaning none of them have any idea that the body is actually the future version of Lisa. She asks if they know how old the victim was, and a detective says, “Can you tell how stale bread is after it’s been toasted?” Umm… yes?
Lisa traces the registry number on the plane to Nick, but when she heads on down to the airfield to give Past Nick the bad news, she’s stunned to see the very same plane, intact and sitting on the runway.
Things get even weirder for Lisa when she calls the police and they say they’ve identified the body in the plane as Lisa herself. And the police actually make a point of saying the body was identified through dental records, but that makes no sense. There’s no Dental Record Database out there like they have with fingerprints or DNA. To identify a body through dental records, you’d need to have at least some idea of who it is. And I highly doubt the police would suspect the body is Lisa, considering they saw her alive at the site of the crash.
Meanwhile, Future J.K. has tracked down Future Nick and is holding him prisoner. He takes Future Nick for a ride on his Evil Transport, saying he’s going to leave him somewhere where he won’t cause any trouble. That somewhere turns out to be the year 1777, where the movie makes crafty use of a local group of Revolutionary War re-enactors. (Oddly, one of the soldiers actually sees the Transport land, but doesn’t appear to be all that perturbed by this.)
They get out of the plane, and J.K. holds Nick at bay with an Uzi, leading me to wonder just how many Fortune 500 CEOs carry around Uzis. J.K. initially wants to simply leave Nick stranded here in the past, but then he realizes Nick might do something to throw a wrench into his evil schemes, like try to kill his “great-great-grandparents”.
But before J.K. can blow Nick away, Nick’s past self and Lisa’s past self suddenly show up. Past Nick has apparently told the Minutemen that J.K. is really a British spy, and we get a shootout where J.K. matches up his Uzi against 18th Century musket rifles.
Alas, we never find out how Past Nick and Past Lisa figured out to come back to the year 1777 to save Future Nick. By the time they pieced everything together, J.K. and Future Nick were already long gone. So it’s kind of a plot hole. But then again, why did everything in the Back to the Future movies happen on November 12, 1955, anyway?
J.K. runs around aimlessly for a while, and then he gets a strange, intense close-up on his eyes as he comes face to face with the Minutemen. He then lets loose with the movie’s one and only profanity (“Oh, shit!”) and runs off.
Meanwhile, Future Nick and Past Nick meet face to face, and I have to admit, the split-screen effect where the actor plays opposite himself is nowhere near as bad as you’d expect. Future Nick is ecstatic to see Past Lisa, back from the dead, but since this version of Lisa never hooked up with him, she’s completely confused. Eventually, they spot J.K. on the run from the Minutemen.
Future Nick grabs a soldier’s horse to stop J.K. from getting back to his Transport, but before he goes, he gives Lisa a passionate goodbye kiss. And there’s a pretty priceless look on Past Nick’s face when this happens. Come on, Nick, chillax. All this means is you’re totally destined to score with a soccer mom.
Future Nick sees J.K.’s plane taking off, and he jumps on the wing. And now Nick is doing crazy stunts up in the air on the wing of a plane, which I have to admit is pretty impressive.
Eventually, J.K. and Future Nick are slugging it out inside the plane in a no holds barred fight to the death. The plane crashes into a tree, and Nick and J.K., both bruised and battered, eventually find their way down to the ground to have one final argument. Nick says he had to save the future, because everyone and everything is connected. You see, it’s a much-needed callback to the spoon scene.
J.K. says, “Connect me to this,” and shoots Nick dead. Interesting choice of Pre-Mortem One-Liner there. I assume the guys who make the Bond movies will be calling any minute now.
When J.K. fires his gun, it somehow causes the plane to tumble out of the tree and land on him, crushing him to death. Both men are dead, but thanks to all the tangents, Past Nick and Past Lisa are both alive and well and headed back to the present.
Back in 1991, Nick destroys all his research on the Transport before he ever sold it to Gen-Corp, thus completely avoiding the sequence of events where he and Lisa die. Which actually causes a major paradox, but for some reason I can go with it. Hey, name a time travel movie that doesn’t contain at least one huge paradox.
Cut to the past version of J.K. showing up at the airfield to see the Transport in action for the first time. This time, however, Nick tells J.K. he invited him down because he’s come up with a great new way to promote Gen-Corp: With a skydiving grandmother. And somehow, some way, with like two hours’ notice, Nick actually found a skydiving granny to come down to the airfield. J.K. is incensed, and he immediately jumps back in his limo and gets the hell out of there.
Interestingly enough, this means that J.K. Robertson, Uzi-toting CEO who’s prone to selling out spacetime itself to make a fast buck, never receives any sort of comeuppance. The J.K. of the original timeline died back in 1777, but it appears this version of J.K. is free to bring about societal collapse again at his earliest convenience.
The movie ends with Nick and Lisa running into each other again at the grocery store. See, it’s just like the way they met up at the grocery store in the original timeline. Except, y’know, in that timeline, they didn’t both just come back from a death defying trip to 1777. Regardless, the implication is clear that they were meant to be together, no matter what the timeline. And that’s the end of the movie.
Okay, sure, it’s a story full of plot holes, and it basically hit the big old Reset Button at the end, meaning none of the events of the movie ever happened in the first place. But I’d be hard pressed to think of a time travel movie (or TV episode) that doesn’t give us at least some variation on this ending.
And yeah, this movie was made on the cheap, but if films were judged solely by how much they cost to make, Evan Almighty would be the greatest comedy ever made. The actors aren’t very easy on the eyes, and none of the action set pieces can really be pulled off on this movie’s budget. But I’m convinced that with professional actors and an experienced director, Time Chasers could have been a real gem of a B-movie. Clearly, this movie only sits on the IMDb Bottom 100 thanks to MST3k fans incapable of grasping the concept of riffing on something that’s actually entertaining.
As you’d expect, none of the actors in the cast went on to do anything particularly noteworthy. Out of all the people involved in Time Chasers, only writer-director David Giancola had anything like a career, directing other low budget features starring such luminaries as Burt Ward, Michael Paré, Morgan Fairchild, and Sean Astin.
A few years back, a special Time Chasers anniversary DVD was announced via a trailer, which was even supposed to feature deleted scenes, but (fortunately? unfortunately?) nothing ever came of it.
Giancola’s most recent directorial effort is 2007’s Illegal Aliens, which gained some measure of infamy thanks to being Anna Nicole Smith’s final acting role. So, just for the record, a relatively clever time travel movie is currently sitting on the IMDb’s Bottom 100, but a painfully unfunny comedy starring a self-medicated former Playmate slurring all of her lines is not. After we figure out a way to stop shooting at each other, we really should figure out a way to stop idiots from voting on IMDb.