Timecop is a 1994 science fiction thriller film directed by Peter Hyams. Dark Horse published a comic book series of the same name.
The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Max Walker, a law-enforcement agent in a world where time travel is possible. It also stars Ron Silver as a rogue politician and Mia Sara as Walker’s wife.
Timecop remains Van Damme’s highest grossing film (breaking the $100,000,000 barrier for a worldwide gross). It was also regarded as one of Van Damme’s better films by critics who usually derided his acting ability.
Timecop follows an interconnected web of episodes in the life—or perhaps lives—of Max Walker (Van Damme), a U.S. Federal agent dedicated to fighting time-travel crime in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
As the film begins, a man uses laser-sighted submachine guns in 1863 to rob gold bullion from Confederate soldiers. In the next scene, set in 1994, top government officials create the Time Enforcement Commission (TEC) to combat misuse of the new discovery of time travel. Senator Aaron McComb (Silver) volunteers to oversee the commission. Shortly afterward, Walker is offered a job as a TEC agent, and shortly after the job offer, he is attacked by intruders at his suburban home. During the attack, his wife Melissa (Sara) is killed in an explosion.
Ten years later, Walker is an experienced TEC Agent. When he is sent to 1929 to arrest his former partner Atwood (Schombing) for taking advantage of the U.S. stock-market crash, Atwood reveals that he has been working for Senator McComb, who needs money for his U.S. presidential campaign. Terrified of McComb, Atwood tries to kill himself by jumping out a window, but Walker catches him and takes him back to 2004. However, Atwood refuses to testify against McComb and is sent back to 1929, where he falls to his death. Haunted by his memories of Melissa, Walker vows to stop McComb.
Walker is then sent with agent Fielding (Reuben) to 1994, where they find a young Senator McComb arguing with Jack Parker about their computer company’s new chip technology. Parker offers to buy McComb’s share of the company, but an older McComb arrives from 2004 to warn the younger McComb that the chip will make huge profits. Walker tries to arrest the older McComb, but is double-crossed by Fielding, who works for McComb. A fight ensues, and McComb kills Parker and escapes back to 2004.
When Walker returns to 2004, The TEC is being closed, McComb is a powerful political figure, TEC director Matuzak (McGill) is no longer Walker’s best friend, and the TEC staff have no memory of McComb’s actions in 1994. Realizing that he must act immediately, Walker commandeers the time machine with Matuzak’s help.
Back in 1994 again, Walker finds Fielding recuperating from gunshot wounds in a hospital. In the lab, he finds a sample of Melissa’s blood indicating that she is pregnant, remembers that her death occurred on that day, and decides to rescue her. After finding Fielding murdered, he goes to the shopping mall where he and Melissa met before she died, finds her, and explains who he is.
In the final showdown, McComb’s thugs arrive at the Walker home as they did at the beginning of the film, but this time the older Walker is waiting for them. The two Walkers defeat the thugs with Melissa’s help, but the young Walker is wounded, and McComb takes Melissa hostage and sets a time bomb to kill them all. However, the young McComb appears, tricked by a message from Walker. According to the film, two instances of the same matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time (compare to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect). Therefore, when Walker pushes the younger McComb into the older one, the two McCombs fuse into a writhing, disappearing mass of blood and flesh.
When Walker returns to 2004, the world is less corrupt and McComb has not been seen since he vanished ten years earlier. At home, Walker finds Melissa and their son waiting to greet him.
Timecop was released on September 16, 1994, where it opened at the number 1 spot with $12,064,625 from 2,228 theaters and a $5,415 average per theater. In its second week, it took the top spot again with $8,176,615. It finished its run with $45 million in total U.S. ticket sales making it the first real solid box office hit for Van Damme. Overseas, it grossed even more, with the total gross at $101 million.
Critics were mixed on Timecop, noticing its various plot holes and inconsistencies. Roger Ebert called Timecop a low-rent Terminator. Richard Harrington of the Washington Post said, “For once, Van Damme’s accent is easier to understand than the plot.”