THROWBACK THURSDAY: Logic-defying ‘Timecop’ fails to tap into Van Damme’s star potential

’90s staffer rips into lackluster blockbuster


Despite an impressive performance by star actor Van Damme, ‘Timecop’ failed to impress audiences at the time.

Otto Smith-Goeke, staff writer

So you wanna be like Ahknowld, huh Jean-Claude?

In Timecop, directed by an underachieving Peter Hyams, Jean-Claude Van Damme takes aim at becoming the latest action hero, and has the talent to do so. The only problem is that he’s in an undoubtedly bad movie which fails to come through despite a not-so-bad story.

Set in the year 2004 when time travel is a possibility, Max Walker (Van Damme) is a government timecop assigned to catch crooks who use time travel as a source of profit. The crooks go back in time and directly affect history to their benefit, such as going back to the 1920s to invest in stocks. It’s Walker’s job to protect reality by catching these criminals. Mixed up in this is the fact that Walker’s wife was murdered 10 years earlier, and that he must deny the temptation to go back and save her.

The “bad guy,” played by Ron Silver, who is moderately unsuccessful in such a role, is out to buy the presidency — as well as kill Walker for interfering in his criminalistic time travel.

The idea of time travel must not be illogical enough for director Hyams as he constantly mixes the plot with logic defying and confusing twists which just don’t make a lot of sense.

The only problem is that [Van Damme]’s used more as a bare gluteal stunt man than a real actor.”

Yet, anyone who goes to see a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie probably isn’t searching for a whole lot of logic. The main attraction is action and violence, with which Timecop delivers. At least sort of. The movie constantly tries to be witty with one-liners yet sometimes forgets to include enough excitement.

As an actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme has all the ability to be as successful as an Arnold Schwarzenegger. He possesses superb physical ability, fine martial arts skills, and demonstrates in this movie that he’s a capable actor as well. The only problem is that he’s used more as a bare gluteal stunt man than a real actor.

With the right tools, this movie could have been intriguingly more entertaining. A spotty script, poor supporting acting and direction are the key areas that hold this movie back. The reality is that Timecop fails to deliver in most aspects except for maybe a Jean-Claude Van Damme kick to the face.

This story was originally published in The Shield on Sept. 21, 1994.