1994, R, 99 min. Directed by Peter Hyams. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ron Silver, Mia Sara, Gloria Reuben.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 16, 1994
The best Jean-Claude Van Damme movie so far, if you know what I'm saying. The Budgie from Brussels (or whatever they call him) is Max Walker, a 2004 AD police officer assigned to the TEC (Time Enforcement Commission) and responsible for patroling the alleyways of the timestream, making sure people don't try to use this new time-travel technology to change the present by, say, getting rich and running for president. Which is exactly what evil Senator McComb (Silver) is doing. Walker, for his part, agonizes daily over the mysterious murder of his young bride Melissa (Sara) 10 years before. If only he could break his TEC vows and return to that fateful day to save her. Ahhh, love. Sentimentalities aside, Walker soon learns that McComb has used his financial clout to buy off over half the agents in the TEC, allowing him to move through time with virtual impunity. Being the upright, noble, and god-and-country kind of guy he is, Walker can't stand McComb's smug self-righteousness, and vows to bring him in, at any cost. McComb retaliates by subtly rearranging the present, dismantling the TEC and eliminating Walker's job. When that tactic fails, he decides to cut to the heart of the matter and eliminate Walker himself, circa 1994, priming the film for doppelganging Van Dammes galore. Being a time-travel epic, plot holes abound here, but it's Van Damme's cute little attempt at being the family man that ruins that oh-so-necessary willing suspension of disbelief. The audience cheered when he did the splits and electrocuted a bad guy, and they chuckled when he made his trademark wiseass retorts, so maybe Van Damme is the action star of the Nineties. Unfortunately, he still can't act his way out of a soggy Kleenex without benefit of a Laaz Rocket. Director Hyams does a decent job keeping the sci-fi/adventure pacing up to snuff, cutting away to something else just when things get a little too, oh, stupid, and keeping the laser-sighted projectiles flying. It's dumb, to be sure, but then again, so were most of the old movie cliffhangers, from which Timecop is obviously derived. And it's going to be a big, big film.