For many people with the scientific background, concept of time travel seems more suitable to fantasy than to science fiction genre. It seems that Hollywood filmmakers share that opinion, because almost always the films dealing with time travel usually don't bother with such boring problems like time travellers killing their own parents before their own conception etc. Sometimes those films touch such problems, but the time travel is more often than not just a background for standard adventure or mindless action. Timecop, 1994 action film directed by Peter Hyams, falls within that second category.
Based on the Dark Horse comic books, screenplay by Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden demands that the viewer suspends a lot of disbelief. In 1994, time travel is discovered and U.S. government sets up TEC - elite secret unit of superagents whose only job is to prevent the people from abusing the technology and changing past for their own purposes. After his loving wife Melissa (played by Mia Sara) dies, Washington D.C. policeman Max Walker (playedby Jean-Claude Van Damme) joins that force. Ten years later Max Walker discovers that powerful and greedy Senator McComb (played by Ron Silver) sends his henchmen into the past to steal money in order to bring funds for his presidential campaign. Walker goes back to 1994 in order not only to prevent the conspiracy but also to save his own wife.
Apart from big plot holes involving time paradox, scientific gaffes (carbon dating of gold) or huge implausibilities, Timecop is a rather entertaining film. Peter Hyams, who directed it, can make his way through science fiction material (starting with his effective 1980 space opera Outland). He knows the limitation of script and does standard action routines, indulging himself with few cinematographic experiments. Jean-Claude Van Damme as protagonist is quite tolerable, although his acting talent is always comes second to his martial arts abilities. The real winner in that contest is Ron Silver as corrupt senator, in role very similar to the one he had played in 1992 film Live Wire. This time it is real fun watching him, especially in the scene when he meets younger version of himself. However, although Timecop has required amount action scenes, few rather impressive shots, couple of well-choreographed fights and generally good look, it is still mediocre piece of Hollywood cinema. Those who aren't easily insulted with cliches and disregard for scientific facts might still enjoy it, though.
RATING: 5/10 (++)
(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies.reviews on June 4th 1999)
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