Monday, October 10, 2016

Timecop (1994)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Warning:  I’m going to give away major details.  I have to do this to properly review the movie.  If you don’t like spoilers, now’s a good time to stop reading.

One of the big questions with time travel is what you would do with it.  Would you go back and kill Hitler?  Would you give yourself the winning lottery numbers?  If you really screwed something up, would you go back and warn yourself about it?  The big question in Timecop is what would you do about it.

The movie starts with someone stealing some Confederate gold.  Yes, that Confederate, as in the American Civil War.  Cut to the present (in this case, 1994) where you have three people telling some senators that time travel has just been invented.  You can’t go to the future because it hasn’t happened yet, but you can go to the past.  This is tricky because there’s no telling what would happen if, say, someone were to go back and kill Hitler before he killed millions of people.  Who knows what effect those millions of people would have on history?

Instead of sweeping it under the rug, it’s proposed that a commission be set up to police the timeline and prevent someone from doing serious harm.  It’s called the Time Enforcement Commission.  Senator McComb gets himself appointed to oversee it.

Max Walker is a pretty good police officer and husband.  He’s considering a job with the new Time Enforcement Commission, much to his wife’s dismay.  As Max is leaving his house one day, he’s beaten up and left for dead by some thugs.  Max looks up to see his wife still inside the house with McComb behind her.  Before he can go in and help, the house explodes, taking her with it.

Ten years later, Max is working for the TEC.  He has to go back and get his former partner, who has gone back to take advantage of the Great Depression.  The plan is that he can buy stock really, really cheap so that his benefactor can make tons of money in 2004.  When Walker asks who that is, the former partner says that it’s McComb.  The plan is to use the money for a presidential bid.  Walker wants him to testify, but he refuses, saying that McComb will kill his grandparents.

When McComb arrives at TEC headquarters to give a tour to a new senator on the oversight committee, McComb asks Walker about his latest mission.  Walker is smart enough not to outright accuse McComb of what he’s done, but they each know what the other knows.

Walker gets to go back on a second mission where he finds the McComb of 2004 trying to kill a former business associate from 1994 at a crucial point.  He succeeds and changes history for the worse.  When Walker goes back, he finds the TEC all but shut down.  He convinces his boss to let him go back one more time to set things right.  As you might expect from a time-travel movie, especially one that has a sequel, Walker not only sets things straight, but he manages to save his wife, as well.

The thing about time-travel movies is that there’s either something that you can’t explain or something that you miss entirely.  In this case, I never understood the cancellation effect that happens when a present-day object touches it’s counterpart from the past.  It’s stated that an object can’t occupy the same space as its former self.  This is used to kill McComb.

I have three problems with this.  First, you’re literally not the same person you were ten years ago.  You’ve consumed and digested a lot of food and drink, breathed a lot of air and a good portion of your body, like hair and nails, has come and gone.  Secondly, the clothes seem to be included in this.  I doubt that McComb is wearing the same socks, the same shoes, the same underwear and so on.  Third, we do go through a lot of oxygen.  What happens if we carry back a molecule of oxygen that happens to interact with its past self?  Does that oxygen nullify itself?  Make enough trips back and you’ll deplete the atmosphere.

Another thing that’s never explored is where the time vehicles go.  To get to the past, a passenger is put into a vehicle.  Passenger and vehicle go forward along a track and eventually disappear.  The passenger arrives somewhere, but there’s no mention of the vehicle until the passenger returns, at which point the vehicle reappears.  Maybe someone came up with something that got cut from the final version.  I’m just curious.

The movie is entertaining, but could be better.  It’s one of those movies that has intricacy, but leaves a few obvious holes.  There are cases where the effects of interference never manifests.  There are cases where the effects are profound.  There are cases where the effects are pretty good.  There are cases where the use of green screen is fairly obvious.  While I’d recommend watching it, I don’t know that I’d recommend running out to get it.  Instead, I’d recommend it only if it comes on TV or if you can get it as part of a package deal. 

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