Timecop (1994) (part 1 of 7)

The Cast of Characters:
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Max WalkerMax Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Yes, it’s the “Muscles from Brussels” (notice he’s not from a place that rhymes with “brains”) in another action role. Here, he’s tasked with portraying two versions of himself, aged ten years apart. He clearly wasn’t up for the challenge, because they had him grow a mullet and go without shaving so we can tell them apart.
Ron Silver as Senator Aaron McComb Senator Aaron McComb (Ron Silver). The villain, and a politician. Craven, evil, remorseless, greedy, and drunk on power. Like I said, a politician. Silver plays him to reptilian perfection.
Bruce McGill as Cmdr. Eugene MatuzakCmdr. Eugene Matuzak (Bruce McGill). Walker’s direct superior, and head of the Time Enforcement Commission. He’s the standard authority figure you find in action films, but McGill looks at times like he’s having as much fun as he did playing D-Day.
Gloria Reuben as Sarah FieldingSarah Fielding (Gloria Reuben). A female time cop, and as such is used mostly as a plot convenience. Though at one point we do see her violate the Time Enforcement Commission’s uniform policy by not wearing a bra, and getting wet.
Mia Sarah as Melissa WalkerMelissa Walker (Mia Sarah). Max’s wife, who’s given little to do but be “imperiled” at times. Just take her role in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and reduce it by a factor of five.

With the start of a new year, many take the time to reflect on past experiences, as well as look forward to the coming year. In the spirit of looking backward and also forward at the same time, it seems appropriate to examine a film that does the same. So come along with me as I skip back across the eons, and see what kind of mischief can be caused by monkeying around in the past!

When it comes to the subject of time travel, some of the most esteemed minds in history have made valiant attempts at unraveling all the implications of the concept. There have been entire schools of thought dedicated to the possibilities of time travel, drawing upon a variety of subjects like relativity, string theory, and quantum physics, and boasting followers among the ranks of the world’s most famous academics and theoreticians—everyone from Einstein and Godel to contemporary thinkers like Hawking and Ivan Novikov.

Hollywood, meanwhile, chose to explore the concept with a sub-literate kick-boxer.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is well known as a pure action performer. He received some cautiously positive reviews for his work in Timecop. Part of that may be due to him showing growth as a performer, and part of it may be due to his performance seeming measured and straightforward compared to a script that makes no sense. Sadly, JCVD still has his trademark handicapped diction in this movie, sounding often like he has a Belgian waffle parked in his jaw.

Timecop was directed by Peter Hyams, who would later go on to direct the mega-bomb A Sound of Thunder. And Timecop actually makes that film seem even worse, because it was made nine years later, and it’s almost the exact same movie as Timecop, and yet Hyams somehow made the idea suck even more.

So here we have a complex theme, a half-hearted performer, a hit-or-miss director, and a ton of money blown on special effects without regards to telling a logical story. What could go wrong?

One thing’s for certain: With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that maybe adapting a comic book as a star vehicle for a guy who can’t even be bothered to take speech classes, let alone hire an acting coach, may not have been the wisest of choices. It does make for some fun, however, so no hitting the fast-forward button.

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Multi-Part Article: Timecop (1994)

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