Timecop (1994)
Timecop (1994)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: September 16th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Peter Hyams Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara, Ron Silver, Bruce McGill, Gloria Reuben, Scott Lawrence




n 1863 in Gainesville, Georgia, a man from the future, sporting hi-tech machineguns, hijacks a shipment of gold going to General Lee. In Washington D.C. in 1994, at a Senate Oversight Committee on Covert Operations, it’s revealed that time travel has been invented and already used for criminal activities. It’s suddenly necessary to form a Time Enforcement Commission to police the use of time travel – and it’s going to cost a lot of money. “The technology is all in the folders in front of you. You won’t understand it any better than I can,” declares George Spota (Scott Lawrence), who briefly describes the fact that they’re unable to visit the future but can journey to the past, and must be extra cautious about the “butterfly effect” of changing even the minutest of events of yore for fear of altering the present.

Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme), one of the newest recruits into the TEC, is called into duty late one night. As he exits his house, gunmen attack and shoot him, then grab his wife Melissa (Mia Sara) – before the entire house explodes in a luminous fireball. Years later, in 2004, Max’s partner Lyle Atwood (Jason Schombing) is caught in the year 1929 trying to buy up stocks that are certain to become profitable, and he’s successfully brought back to the present to stand trial. Meanwhile, Director Matuzak (Bruce McGill) gives Senator Aaron McComb (Ron Silver) a tour of the TEC facility, where it becomes obvious that the corrupt politician is secretly employing TEC officers to manipulate funds for his upcoming presidential candidacy. Sure enough, McComb’s assassins target Walker, who refuses to give up attempting to uncover the senator’s repeated malfeasance. For additional inconvenience, Internal Affairs Agent Sarah Fielding (Gloria Reuben) becomes Walker’s new partner when the organization wishes to chaperone his potential for jobbery.

Despite specifically referencing the butterfly effect, the movie proceeds to completely and utterly ignore it. Even though technicians monitor the ripples caused by jumping back and forth in time, the effects of altering the past never seem to have drastic consequences for present day characters. While “Timecop” proposes that matter can’t occupy the same space in the same time, and brings up the ideas of preventing time travel rather than policing it, the film also develops peculiar notions of the technology required to initiate such trips. A special vehicle and maximal speed is necessary to get to the past (driving through a barrier, like “Back to the Future”), but returning to the present only depends on a tiny black module stored in pants pockets.

“Timecop” is based on a comic book written by Mark Verheiden and Mike Richardson. For the sake of creativity and a faithful adaptation, Verheiden himself wrote the screenplay. And despite an overuse of exaggerated one-liners, henchmen strolling about decked in black leather coats to look like obvious thugs, and the fact that the lead villain acknowledges the simplicity of pulling a trigger to kill his opponents (yet manages to repeatedly fail to dispatch the troublesome Walker), the script is actually hilariously amusing (quite unintentionally). Numerous scenes take pride in dragging out nearing doom, which always gives the hero extra opportunities to survive, and the finale is completely nonsensical. It can’t competently divvy up screen attention between making sense of the technology and immersing Van Damme in action-packed scenarios (or showing off Mia Sara nudity), so it opts to give the martial artist fight choreography that is better than his usual variety – and therefore lacks reasonable time travel theories. Further embellishing the easier route are scads of shootouts and escapes. In the end, it’s not a great filmic exploration of time travel or science-fiction themes, but it’s still a decent amount of fun.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10