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Timecop

cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara, Ron Silver, Bruce McGill, and Gloria Ruben
director: Peter Hyams
94 minutes (18) 1994
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Prism Leisure DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
Although this fails to scale the heights of time-paradox complexity, or even genre entertainment values, of The Terminator (1984) and Back To The Future (1985), Timecop is enjoyable nonsense and remains one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's best films. Despite being riddled with plot holes and stuffed with a bumper pack of shameless sci-fi clichés (need I remind you screenwriters Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden adapted a popular comicbook?), the ten-year-old Timecop (quite amusingly, from today's perspective, the film is set in 2004!), this nitpicker's magnet often surpasses many other more sophisticated time-travelling cinematic narratives for sheer pace, and benefits from a few remarkably well achieved surprises.

Following the seemingly motiveless murder of his wife Melissa (utterly gorgeous Mia Sara, from Ridley Scott's Legend), good cop Walker (Van Damme) is recruited by the 21st century's Time Enforcement Commission, based in Washington, DC. But there's already trouble brewing for the TEC squad when corrupt Senator McComb (Ron Silver) hatches a scheme to fund his US presidential campaign with Confederate gold stolen from 19th century soldiers. Forbidden to alter the past (so Walker is unable to 'save' his beloved), the time-cops catch and hurriedly execute the few meddling baddies who manage to break the law, but evilly ambitious McComb attempts to use his political weight to rid himself of the TEC, claiming it's a waste of resources. Walker is immediately suspicious of McComb's intentions and soon they meet again in the most unexpected times and places. There's not really much in the way suspense or dramatic tension here, but as many critics noted way back in 1994, this is a thriller where 'the clock is ticking...'

Of course, there's Van Damme's trademark kickboxing action to help keep things interesting whenever the science fictional elements, and computerised morphing effects (absurdly primitive by current standards), lapse into tedious formula. So, even if this picture lacks anything resembling originality, the ability and appeal of its main stars keeps us watching.

The budget priced DVD release has Dolby digital stereo and English subtitles for the hard of hearing but there are no disc extras whatsoever. Happily, the format is scope widescreen, not full-frame 4:3 as stated on the sleeve.
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