It’s Not As Awful As It Looks: “Timecop” (1994)

Time heals all wounds. Take for example, the career of Jean Claude Van-Damme. At his peak of popularity he was nothing but a third rate Arnold Schwarzenneger. I never counted myself amongst his fans, and what few films of his I did actually see back then, I hated. So by the time that Timecop was released in 1994 I had already written the “Muscles from Brussels” off completely.

Flash forward a couple decades and now I find myself so completely jaded by modern CGI-overloaded action films that I’ve no choice but to mine the past for “lost” treasures (at least lost to me). Having just re-evaluated (to my pleasant surprise) a few seminal works by director Peter Hyams, I figured why not give his foray into Van-Damme-dom a shot….and, what the hell — it’s an entertaining little number. Change a few of the cringe-inducingly awful haircuts and put Mel Gibson in the title role and this movie would likely be regarded as a small-time classic. I shit you not. What’s more, ol’ Jean Claude isn’t that bad….he delivers in the action scenes and spits out his lines with no more goofiness than Arnold. He may lack Mr. Olympia’s charisma, but he also avoids coming acrossed as a complete twat (at least in this particular movie).

Set in the distant future of 2004, the story is a fairly simple one (by time-travel movie standards): basically, time travel has been invented, but you can only travel to the past and not the future. The government has determined that all this history changing business is a rather unsafe idea, so they’ve banned its use. Predictably, a bad guy has managed to procure his own little time travellin’ device and is using it to gain ungodly amounts of wealth, so a taskforce is assembled to prevent ne’er-do-wells from committing crimes in the past —hence, timecops. How they know when and where these crimes are going to happen is never fully explained (imagine that!), but seeing as this is a time travel film, plotholes are ubiquitous. Just go with it.

Anyway, early in the movie we get the priveledge of witnessing Van Damme do the horizontal mambo with Ferris Beuller’s girlfriend (Mia Sara). The downside is that we get to see Van Damme in a love scene, the upside is we see Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend naked. I’ll chalk it up as a win.

Not 30 seconds after they finish “the deed”, Mia Sara gets blown to post-coital bits. Thus begins our hero’s long quest to not only stop the evil time-jumpin’ guys, but to deal with the loss of his obliterated wife. As you can imagine, there’s a slim chance Jean Claude might be able to rectify the situation. He has access to a fucking time machine, after all.

The more one thinks about it, the sillier the film gets….so that’s why it’s absolutely imperative you don’t think about it. Just go along for the ride and you’ll enjoy watching Van Damme do the splits, Mia Sara get topless, a dude getting his arm insta-frozen by liquid nitrogen, Ron Silver being greasier than a bucket of KFC and a whole lot of uneccesary high-kicks performed by our hero. The film is fast-paced as all hell and more fun than anything Michael Bay could pull off with 1000x the budget. Just watch it.

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