Timecop: The Berlin Decision
Timecop: The Berlin Decision 2003
I don’t think I even knew that there was a sequel to Timecop until I started looking up information about the Jean Claude Van Damme version. It’s not surprising because it came out several years later, direct to video, with none of the same stars. Instead of Van Damme, we’re given Jason Scott Lee as yet another foreign lead and Timecop. And the villain this time around is also a member of a group trying to eliminate the Timecop program as a member of the Society for Historical Accuracy, or something like that. There is a bit of a problem with plot clarity, but there is quite a bit more questioning of the possibilities of time travel, including the beginning and titular scene where Brandon Miller seeks to kill Hitler while timecop Ryan Chan stops him in order to preserve the timeline in spite of any possibly positive repurcussions. I also noticed a surprisingly improved fight choreography, as Van Damme is a noted martial artist himself, though there are a few fight scenes that were better than anything from the first one.
Basically, this movie takes place 20 years after the first movie, which makes it 30 years into the TEC program. Instead of riding a sled towards a wall, they now take a shot and just sit in a chair in order to travel back into the past. I quite liked the initial opening scene which sets up the conflict quite well, with Brandon Miller and his wife attempting to kill Hitler before his full rise to power, while Ryan and his team are there to stop him, and Ryan kills Miller’s wife in the process. We then jump ahead to the wild west where Ryan is spending 30 days of probation in the past, and manages to stop a time criminal and one of Miller’s final associates right as his probation officially ends. Just as in the first movie, there’s some erasing of timecops from the timeline, and a death in Ryan’s past that he could prevent.
I think what makes this movie stand out from its predecessor is the fact that it does take a more philosophical look at changing the past. There is a society that’s dedicated to keeping track of history in order to make sure there aren’t any changes, even though I’m not quite sure how that would actually work because if there were any changes, it would affect the society’s records right along with everything else. And the two leads, Brandon and Ryan are at opposite ends of the philosophy. Miller thinks that if time travel is available, then why not use it to prevent bad things that have happened in the past in order to make the future better. While Chan believes that things have already happened for a reason and they need to remain the same no matter what. In fact, when given the same chance that Van Damme had in the first movie, he actually makes the decision to keep his timeline intact even though it means the death of his father. And it’s also interesting that his father’s death that he remembers includes the events that happen in this movie, even though that does go against what was set up in the first movie, that the future “hasn’t happened yet”. It also feels like there’s more set pieces in different time periods in the past, including Nazi Germany, the Wild West, the Roaring 20’s, and a brief moment in the 70’s.
Where this movie falls flat is towards the middle of the movie, once Miller has been freed from a deep underground prison for the criminally insane, kind of like an Arkham Asylum, and starts erasing timecop after timecop before leaving it up to Ryan to perform a dangerous jump to save his own ancestors before they are killed. While one of the early setups is actually quite interesting, because we see Miller kill an Asian man without Chan disappearing only to find out that Chan isn’t fully Asian and two of his great grandparents were both white. I also liked how there wasn’t any revelatory moment aside from the reveal of the pocketwatch that Chan carries with him all the time to spell out the connection. But once he gets back to the present and the present timeline keeps changing and he keeps having to go back into the past, things start getting confusing. It becomes hard to keep track of the changes that the characters are going through and what events they are talking about, including a war that may or may not have happened, a husband, and an eyepatch. It also didn’t help that aside from the two leads, most of the other actors were not very convincing and gave rather flat performances.
But aside from that part, there’s also actually quite a few good moments of fighting, with Jason Scott Lee being a more visually interesting martial artist than Van Damme even though he never gets a chance to do the splits. Thomas Ian Griffith also gets the chance to do some fighting, and he also plays the villain quite well, making his motivations clear and also making them sound completely reasonable. It’s hard not to side with the guy who really just wants to go back in time and kill Hitler and save his wife. I also think the resolution at the end was well done and made sense. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but there’s also a nice little sense of humor throughout, and while it was never laugh out loud funny, I thought it added a nice bit of fun with plenty of action hero style quips. I enjoyed it just as much as the first Timecop, and in some ways I enjoyed it even more. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.