Review by Gary Couzens
1993: Following the discovery of time travel, the US government sets up a police force to prevent abuse of the new technology. 1994: Leading timecop Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) watches helplessly as his wife Melissa (Mia Sara) is murdered during a break-in. 2004: Walker uncovers a plot to change the course of history, which seems to involve Presidential candidate McComb (Ron Silver)...
Timecop represents The Muscles from Brussel’s attempt at the commercial big-time. Certainly he’s done himself a favour recently by employing stronger directors: John Woo (Hard Target) and now Peter Hyams. While no stylist, Hyams is certainly competent, and has done good work in the past.
A solid script holds the film together while not making excessive demands of Van Damme’s less-than-stellar acting prowess. (Here’s how to tell apart the 2004 and 1994 Van Dammes: the later model has longer hair.) A simple motivation (revenge and grief over his wife) and a few Arnie-esque one-liners do him nicely.
At the same time, the supporting cast (Ron Silver especially, despite overacting) are strong enough actors to take the load off him so he can concentrate on what he does best, namely display his karate skills. There are plenty of opportunities, mostly well orchestrated by Hyams, though a climactic fight in the rain is so under-lit by Hyams (his own cameraman, as he has been ever since 2010) that it’s hard to see who’s pummelling whom.
Nothing very deep, and the use of time paradoxes doesn’t bear close examination, but it’s fast moving enough to keep you entertained and at an hour and a half doesn’t outstay its welcome.
This review was originally published in the January/February 1995 issue of the BFS Newsletter (Vol. 19, No. 1).