Universal // 1994 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 24th, 2008
Turn back the clock, and you're history.
You wanna dick around in the space-time continuum? Go for it. Just be prepared for a hard-hitting dose of Van-Damage!
You may not have heard about this, but in 1994, a scientist invented time travel. For real. The U.S. Government covertly established a time policing authority, which sends agents to the past in a turbo-powered go-cart, to quell any illegal criminal activity going down. Because altering the past can have profound effects on the future, Timecops have a major responsibility, and are trained in all kinds of combat and anti-personnel ribcage punching.
Take Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bloodsport) for example. Here's a guy with a mullet, a jacket two sizes too small, and pants so tight they betray the location of his testicles. No time-traveling clown can even come close to getting the jump on him. He's just way too tricky what with the leaping ability and groin flexibility. No one, that is, except Senator Aaron McComb (Ron Silver), a corrupt Senator and Presidential candidate so evil he gets endorsements from pro-life groups and pro-second-amendment organizations. This guy is a horrifying monster! Senator McComb chairs the Timecop Oversight Committee and has secretly been abusing the technology to go back in time and make power plays that will infuse his present day campaign with large amounts of cash. What he didn't count on is the resiliency of Max Walker; somehow missing the fact that he knows the guy's name and could have gone back in time to whack him when he was in kindergarten. Whatever. The guy is evil and his mistakes will give Walker the opportunity he needs to bring it.
Take away the time traveling tomfoolery and you're dealing with a typical mid-'90s Van Damme action flick. That's cool, I like those movies. But the scifi conceit meets with mixed success and ultimately makes Timecop stupider. Take that damn shuttle launching thing. What's going on there? How do the Timecops leave their rocket when they pass through the time portal, but magically reappear in it when they bounce back into the future? And why build a huge concrete wall just a few feet in front of the end of the launch runway? There are numerous references to a launch gone wrong where a pair of Timecops got splattered. Why not drag the runaway out a bit, or at least throw some couch cushions over there?
The "ripple effect" -- change one small thing in the past and that leads to dramatic changes in the future; a notion perfected, of course, by The Simpsons -- is talked about a lot, but nothing ever cool comes about. I think the biggest change in the future was one of the computer guys changed his hair style. Missed opportunity there. Still, the time-hopping isn't insulting, and all things considered, the storyline is easily one of the most ambitious Van Damme has ever been attached to.
At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to bone-crushing action and Timecop, thankfully, delivers on that front. Senator McComb goes out like a punk in a weird proto-CGI blobfest, but interesting kills and violence abound elsewhere. Snapped necks, torsos riddled with bullets, electrocutions, plummets from the top of buildings, it's all there, and Van Damme does his thing with success. Plus he takes a beating well, an element of his action heroism I always admired. Best kill, though: the dude who gets his left arm frozen in a blast of chemical gas, which is followed by a quick kick by Van Damme that shatters entire left side of the guy's body, and he falls headfirst into a glass floor. Random, weird, and bodacious.
Timecop on HD DVD is as bare-bones as you'll find on a next-gen optical disc. Picture quality (2.35:1, 1080p) is an upgrade from the standard DVD, a solid transfer for an older catalog title. The scifi and action-centric clips sport clean detailing and color work, though some of the visual effects look even more dated with the increased clarity. The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track is robust, though not as big an aural tour de force as I expected. No extras, save for the "My Scenes" custom movie clip collection.
Not bad if you add the "for a Van Damme movie" suffix. I'll allow it. For the HD upgrade, it's all about the picture and, luckily, it's a looker.
Not guilty. Something something "time to" something.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* My Scenes