Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

You won't believe this, but Timecop isn't just another naff Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle. No, seriously, it's not. All right, there's still plenty of Van Damme-ness on show (the brooding hero, high-kicking, accenty one-liners, the obligatory pants scene) but its better viewing than you'd expect...

It's 1994, and when a group of government officials are informed that time-travel is now possible, they form the Time Enforcement Commission to police it. Ten years later, dedicated TEC agent Max Walker (Van Damme) is still grieving the mysterious death of his wife (Mia Sara) when he discovers that corrupt Senator Aaron McComb (Ron Silver) is using the technology to go back and make money for his faltering Presidential campaign.

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Capable director Peter Hyams (responsible for atmospheric sci-fi yarn Outland) lifts proceedings from straight-to-rental dross, getting the dark tone just right. Comic scribes Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden - who also penned the simultaneously-released graphic novel - also ensure there's more story here than any four of JCVD's movies combined. Plus Ron Silver is a superbly slimy villain, way better than the cheesy monologuers these sort of flicks normally boast. Just check out when he talks to a younger, past version of himself - "Will you do me a favour, will you lay off the f**king candy bars?!" - brilliant.

Ah yes, but what about the muscles from Brussels? Well, aside from looking cool and a bit different with the mullet-and-stubble combo, it's nice to see him given more emotive opportunities than usual ("If I cahn't go back to save her, dis scumbag iss nit going back to steal mon-nee"), playing well opposite boss/buddy Matuzak (the superb Bruce McGill). Of course, he's as physical as ever and doing the splits at every opportunity but, thankfully, we don't get four replays of every roundhouse kick and the action is mostly quite inventive (save for a laughable knife fight which sees Max block every attack without moving).

While there are a few moments where the effects look naff (the awful same matter, same space blob), the time-travel itself is well handled. Whenever anyone appears or disappears, morphing into the background, it looks great and leads to some cool moments, such as when agent Walker finds himself on a highway with a lorry approaching. Like most flicks that dabble with travelling through time though, there are a few logic holes. First and foremost, where the hell does the vehicle go when agents are sent bacl? Still, it also effectively bends the mind occasionally, such as when Walker returns from a mission to find everything has changed for the worse...

Flawed yes, but by doing everything better than you'd expect, Timecop is the thinking man's Van Damme movie.

Reviewed on: 19 May 2010
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A man takes on a corrupt senator who is travelling through time.
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Director: Peter Hyams

Writer: Mike Richardson, Mark Verheiden

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara, Ron Silver, Bruce McGill, Gloria Reuben, Scott Bellis, Jason Schombing, Scott Lawrence, Kenneth Welsh, Brent Woolsey, Brad Loree, Shane Kelly, Richard Faraci, Steven Lambert, Kevin McNulty

Year: 1994

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada, US, Japan


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