This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Timecop.”
The Movie: “Timecop”
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara, Ron Silver
Director: Peter Hyams
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Max Walker, an officer for a security agency that regulates time travel, must fend for his life against a shady politician who’s intent on changing the past to control the future.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44 percent
Brown: We are coming awfully close to our third year of doing the JOE-DOWN. So what’s a good way to celebrate? With the man that started the JOE-DOWN: Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Like we saw last week with “Grease,” John Travolta defines the JOE-DOWN. Behind him, it has to be JCVD, with his horrible comedy chops in “Welcome to the Jungle” and the homeless man’s version of Mr. Miyagi he played in “Kickboxer: Vengeance.”
Weird thing is, we never hit a movie with JCVD as a lead. Until now with “Timecop,” where mulleted JCVD must rescue clean-cut JCVD via TIME TRAVEL so he can live happily ever after with
Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, Sloane his lover.
JCVD movies shouldn’t make you have to think about the complexity of time travel. Alas, here we are.
All right, Froemming, I’m gonna stretch so I can throw some sweet roundhouse kicks like Max Walker. Why don’t you give me your thoughts on this one?
Froemming: I just got back from watching “The Last Jedi,” and I am angry I now have to talk about a forgettable action movie starring JCVD.
I watched a lot of action flicks growing up, but I never saw this one. If I did, I completely forgot about it, which after viewing “Timecop” is a believable thing to have happened.
Brown: Which is a little weird. This is Van Damme’s highest-grossing movie at $101 million. I never saw this as a kid, but I knew of it.
Froemming: That’s exactly where I was at. And I think there is a reason. His star was rising with “Universal Soldier” and whatnot, and he made this time travel movie that, for reasons I still do not understand, does not utilize his martial arts skills all that much. We just have a mopey JCVD traveling through time with a mullet. Which, at least, is something I guess.
But let’s travel back to 1994, the year Kurt Cobain killed himself so he wouldn’t have to watch this movie.
Brown: Things from 1994 shouldn’t be belittled. It was our peak as a civilization. And I base that only on what Super Nintendo games came out that year. “Super Metroid” says it was the greatest year ever.
Anywho, we open the movie to a robbery attempt of a Confederate convoy in Civil War days. One man says he wants a shipment of gold meant for General Lee. And it turns out this lone man is a time traveler and he guns down everyone in the convoy with a semi-automatic. Years later, I’m sure a statue of this robber was erected in the South and is fought over to this day by dumbass white supremacists.
Froemming: We then are whisked away back to 1994, where like all great action movies, we get a boring meeting by government bureaucrats on the dangers of a new invention: Time travel. They need to develop more government waste and spending creating a new police force to ensure people do not fiddle with time. And as you pointed out, it has happened, because Sloane is no longer in Chicago with Ferris, but in a mall with JCVD.
This could happen to any of us with time travel tomfoolery. It’s spooky.
Brown: I’d love to find a way to be paired up with Sloane. I had a crush on her in high school from “Ferris.”
My question is this: When we hear about the new time-travel agency, the Time Enforcement Commission, we’re told that one of the heads of it will be the police chief of DC… Wouldn’t someone from a higher-up agency like the FBI or CIA be a better fit than a local police chief?
And, now, when Sloane, whose name is Melissa Walker, is standing alone at a mall before being bothered by a man whose opening line is “There’s never enough time… to satisfy a woman.” That line terrified me more than it should have.
Froemming: Harvey Weinstein wrote this movie??
Brown: Aside from that being a line that no normal person would say, JCVD’s doofy Belgian accent is recognizable to anyone.
But, it works because movie magic, and they go home and bump uglies. Well, Sloane’s not ugly. My crush on her still exists.
Froemming: Before this, we get JCVD stopping a purse thief and we see he is being watched by the goth kids from “South Park.” Because this is the classic clubbing-foreshadowing-over-your-head of action films of the 1990s.
Brown: OK, so the main goon of this movie… you’re older than I am, did people still have mullets like that in 1994. Dude looks like Jerry Sags from the Nasty Boys of WWF fame.
Froemming: I am from St. Cloud, people there still have mullets like that.
Now, after some loud James Bond-style sex, JCVD gets a call and has to go. Sloane has something she wants to tell him (she’s pregnant) but he is too busy not paying attention to her as he heads out the door.
In the words of Admiral Ackbar:
JCVD walks out the door and is jumped by the band Marilyn Manson, who have sweet martial arts skills they use to knock the snot out of him. And then they kill Sloane, and not even crashing a parade and singing “Twist and Shout” is going to bring her back.
Brown: Well, they gun down Max Walker but he happens to be wearing a bulletproof vest. Do cops wear those on the way to work? Isn’t that something you’d have to get at the station? Whatever.
And it’s not that they just kill
Sloane Melissa, they blow up the house. Like, obliterate it. Scorched earth. That’s… kind of brutal.
We fast-forward to 2004 and Walker has become the obsessed, hard-boiled cop that is full of stubble and what I can only describe as a mental health mullet. It is not the look of a man who is well.
He travels back to 1929, at the start of the Great Depression, to stop his former partner, Atwood, from using knowledge of the stock market to make bank. This of course leads to move JCVD kicks and the first of two splits in this movie.
Yes, I counted how many times JCVD did the splits. Like doves in a John Woo-directed movie, it’s a matter of when, not if it happens.
Froemming: His partner says he is working for someone else, and because nuance is not a thing in this movie, as soon as we see Sen. McComb in 2004 I knew right away he was the big bad of the film. Because he has a beard.
As a man with a beard, I find this stereotype troubling.
But his partner is not going to spill the beans of some doofus senator from Hicksville, USA, so he opts for death, and they send him back to the point where they brought him: Falling to his death.
Brown: But Atwood DOES spill the beans. He’s all “I can’t tell you anything, Max” to “OMG, I was sent by McComb. He’s a senator running for president. He’s making money from the past to fund his campaign!” Like, he squeals almost instantly. But, he doesn’t testify in the TEC’s court, so hence he meets his grizzly end.
… Why does the TEC have its own court? Are time-travel crimes committed so frequently that there needs to be a judicial system made specifically for it, with judges and bailiffs that make full-time money for this?
Feels like a waste of my tax dollars and I am definitely in the lower class.
Froemming: To quote Wayne Jarvis from “Arrested Development”: The PATRIOT Act. Read it.
Also, snitches get stitches, Brown.
Now, McComb is running for president and he visits the TEC headquarters. This movie was so boring, I am forgetting why he was there, but I do remember a moment with McComb that sent chills down my spine.
He tells his campaign guy that television wins elections. Sen. McComb has to be Donald Trump’s secret campaign manager! With time travel, he can change whatever. I think my paranoid friends are right: Trump is a time traveler.
Brown: Does that make Robert Mueller a timecop? God, I hope so.
Froemming: I think we are going off the rails here. Let’s watch this to get back to our senses.
There, I feel better.
Brown: I needed that.
Before McComb takes his tense tour of the TEC with Max knowing he’s a dirty politician (BIG stretch there, guys), Max is told he has a new partner in rookie Sarah Fielding. It freaked me out later knowing that Fielding is played by Gloria Reuben, who plays Elliot’s therapist in one of my favorite shows, “Mr. Robot.”
Right away, as Max and Fielding are sent to 1994 to investigate McComb, you can tell something is amiss about the new partner. Really loves mentioning her family to a guy who lost his in an explosion like she could have known with even the minimal amount of background checking.
Before they travel into the past, JCVD did drop a line where he says “I’m never funny.” I watched “Welcome to the Jungle.” He’s not wrong.
Froemming: There was not a single moment I thought she was on the up and up. Because this movie is so paper thin it would break if I sneezed in its general direction.
Brown: You’d also think that with this technology being around for a decade, Max and Fielding would land at the proper location in DC rather than in the reflection pool.
And to your point about this movie’s lack of subtlety, when they get to this factory that’s partially owned by McComb, there is a car outside with a license plate that says “SENATOR.” Like, is McComb really that much of a (REDACTED), or are there 100 DC license plates that say “SENATOR.”
A lesson I’ve learned in life: A customized license plate says to me, “Hey Joe, let’s never be friends.”
Froemming: OK, so the premise of TEC is to prevent changes in the past because of the Butterfly Effect or whatever. JCVD kills a bunch of people in 1929. He kills a lot of people in 1994. Time should start looking like what happened when Homer traveled back in time on “The Simpsons” and sneezed on a dinosaur: Chaos.
Brown: Look, time travel theory is so convoluted I didn’t want to think about it while watching this movie. You just know from watching it that they’re doing it wrong.
Froemming: IT’S THE REASON THEY STARTED THE (REDACTED) TEC! This movie doesn’t need us to crap on it, it does plenty of that on its own.
Brown: Wow, usually I’m the one here writing in all caps like some insane person on a newspaper comments section.
Froemming: Sorry, I got a little hot there.
Brown: Don’t worry, you’ll get pissed off later.
So at this factory, we see a young Sen. McComb being pushed out of his own company that does things. Aside from hearing about a microchip, I don’t know what any of it is.
But, as young McComb is shooed away, a bunch of goons and future McComb arrive and tell the young senator that the microchip will one day be worth a fortune. So, future McComb ends the deal… with a bullet.
And when Max comes and catches future McComb in the act of time-travel terrorism (or something), he is betrayed by Fielding. That bummed me out. Why did the black cop have to be evil?
This leads to, you guessed it, another JCVD fight scene.
Froemming: A boring fight scene to boot. Look, he escapes and finds his way back to 2004, where Dick Cheney is the law of the land. And he finds things are different. His buddy captain is not his buddy, the creepy virtual reality porn guy is still creepy, but has a different haircut and McComb is leading in the polls.
Brown: Yeah, how cushy is a government job if a guy who is looking at virtual reality porn (because it’s an action movie and we need gratuitous nudity) on the job only gets a “knock it off” instead of a pink slip and a swift escort out of the building?
Froemming: Maybe TEC has a horrible HR department.
Why didn’t McComb just pull a Biff from “Back to the Future” and bet on all the big sporting games in the past to earn a fortune to be King of Earth? Because he is not very bright? I dunno, that seems easier than trying to kill JCVD and his family with some goth kids at a mall. Or throw money in a bank in 1940 and allow the interest to grow to an insane amount?
Look, I think I spend too much time thinking of Get Rich Schemes with time travel, but my ideas make more sense than this movie does.
Brown: Somehow, Max convinces the chief to let him travel in the past again, thinking that he can use Fielding as a witness against McComb after he betrayed the cop and shot her.
But, that plan goes awry when Nasty Boy Sags kills Fielding.
While hiding from security and McComb’s goons, Max finds a vial of his wife’s blood in a lab for the most convenient plot point I’ve seen in a movie in a long-ass time. He looks at the vial and sees that Melissa is/was pregnant.
Ten years, Max. TEN (REDACTED) YEARS SINCE YOUR WIFE DIED. You never put the dots together that she was preggers when she kept telling you that she had a secret to share? I would question if you’re that dense, but I know you are.
Max is as bad with women as I am? Know why I know that? Because I’d probably be dumb enough to use a line like “There’s never enough time… to satisfy a woman.” I have the bruised jaw to prove it. Because of all the slaps I (rightfully) receive.
Anyway, we get a repeat of Brown’s pickup line again at the mall, but this time Sloane has been warned by future-JCVD that something bad is going on. Again, TEC was created so timelines wouldn’t be messed with, and now Max is on the path to become his own grandfather.
So, Sloane acts like she didn’t just see her man 10 years older and with a mullet to present day Max and we get the creepy line again. Future Max spots the goth kids and we get another uninspired fight scene at a mall.
Brown: I would think when Melissa saw what her husband looked like 10 years later, she’d be like, “Wow, you really let yourself go. I have concerns. Your job is eating you alive and your hair… my God. I think I want a divorce. My unborn child doesn’t need to see his father become this.”
Future Max tells Melissa that she cannot let past Max downstairs when he receives the call from work post-coitus or else the tragic events of that night will happen.
So, we are treated to more Max/Melissa love-making, but Max is too stubborn to, you know, stay and cuddle with his wife.
That’s when future Max takes things into his own hands.
It just dawned on me. Max Walker. Where does he fall on the Texas Ranger scale?
Froemming: He’s no Chuck Norris, I can tell you that.
So, once again we get the goth kids breaking into the house. We have future-Max out in the rain fighting off baddies. Inside, regular Max is kicking people left and right. And somehow….it’s not very cool. Whatever.
Brown: You hated these fight scenes more so than I did. My problem was more with them taking place in dark corridors and at night so you couldn’t see anything over the action being bland.
Froemming: They just were not all that inspired. Felt like the fight scenes were phoned in.
Now, we get the showdown with Sen. McComb and Max in the house as the senator has a gun to Melissa’s head. McComb is not very good at any of this. Just a doofus blowing up the space/time continuum.
Brown: Before this, we see how incredibly dumb Melissa is. To run away from goons trying to capture her, she climbs the steep roof of her Victorian home during a TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM. How you didn’t kill yourself is movie magic at its finest.
Now, in the Max/McComb showdown, past McComb shows up at the same place as future McComb. Past McComb is there because he received a message from future McComb. All I could think of is Dwight Schrute getting a memo from “Future Dwight.”
What is a Timecop to do in a crisis? Why, what he’s told explicitly not to do and break time travel law! Max kicks past McComb into future McComb, which is a violation of time travel as the same matter cannot occupy the same space. This turns the McCombs into… a lava lamp?
Look, I’ve seen worse special effects. But these ones certainly do not hold up.
Froemming: The one special effect I liked was when he went back to 1994 and is almost hit by a semi. But yeah, this movie hasn’t aged very well, but I blame the bad writing over the bad special effects for that.
Now, McComb had timed some bombs to go off and Future-Max saves the day and returns to 2004, where the Bush Administration is telling Americans the Iraq War will pay for itself and the people believed them. I know, sounds silly.
But Max finds his buddy is alive, that Fielding is alive though she doesn’t know him in this timeline and is rightfully creeped out when Max brings up the time she hooked up with some dude when she was 16. He finds he has the old house, and Melissa is alive and he is a father. All new to him.
When 1994 Sen. McComb got cut in the face earlier in this film, the scar appeared on his 2004 face right away. Why the (REDACTED) doesn’t Max know his family? I hate this (REDACTED) movie.
Brown: All Max Walker knows is roundhouse kicks and splits. I forgot to mention the knife fight early in the movie where JCVD breaks out another splits to save himself from electrocution.
It’s the “Dancing with the Stars” of knife fights: The bad guy is doing all the fancy stuff and all JCVD does is move his arm up and down.
Final point on this movie: When we see Max’s son, which one of the two has the worse hair?
Froemming: They both look like idiots.
Let’s hop in the pod and race ourselves to the future end of this review in recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I have no strong opinion either way. It’s not a bad action movie, and it’s probably one of JCVD’s better films. But, it’s by no means good. So, whatever, do what you want. I’m not your dad.
Froemming: Nope. This was a boring action movie. Bad plot. Bad writing. JCVD has better bad action movies that are enjoyable, like “Bloodsport.”
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: