It’s always been my contention that the reason Time Travel movies are such a niche genre (with the exception of the “Terminator” movies, which has defied the parameters of the genre and become something completely different) is the inherent problems associated with making films about people going back in time. Time Travel movies are just…nonsensical. All the problems increase twofold when the film tries to address its inherent nonsensical, well, nonsense. So the trick, then, is to mostly explain what can be explained, and avoid altogether what can’t be explained. If that makes any sense at all, then “Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision” will be a good movie for you; if it doesn’t, then “Timecop 2” will just be another nonsensical movie in a genre bred on nonsensical nonsense.
The original “Timecop”, starring the then-viable action star Jean-Claude van Damme (“Derailed”), was a moderate success back in 1994. 2003’s sequel brings Jason Scott Lee from obscurity to play Ryan Chan, a timecop who, like all timecops, are burdened with the task of defending the timeline against criminals bent on altering past events. Chan’s greatest foe is Miller (Thomas Ian Griffith), a member of a secret society that works with the timecops to “authenticate” history. Having gone rogue, Miller is obsessed with altering the past for the better. His first mission is a trip back in time to kill Hitler; Chan manages to stop him, but at the cost of Miller’s wife.
Meanwhile, back in the present (or future, depending on your POV), Miller escapes from incarceration and begins jumping back in time again. His new mission: kill all the timecops before they were born, thus preventing them from preventing his past actions. Or something to that affect. The point is, if you spend too much time trying to make sense of the screenplay by Gary Scott Thompson (“The Fast and the Furious”) you are liable to go insane and pull out all of your hair. To say that not much about “Timecop 2” makes sense (including the inclusion of the oddball subtitle) is the understatement of the century. The movie is simply mind-boggling in its inability to tell a logical story for longer than two scenes in a row.
Not that it matters, of course. Time Travel movies, as previously mentioned, are inherently nonsensical. If you spent even a single minute pondering the premises of every Time Travel movie ever made it will become quickly obvious that they are not meant to make sense. As time travel itself could never actually exist in real life, the same can be said about Time Travel movies. Having said this, “Timecop 2” is a very entertaining jaunt, mostly thanks to the affable Jason Scott Lee, who was last seen in the “Dracula 2000” sequel “Dracula: Ascension”, and will be seen in the “Prophecy” sequel, “Prophecy: Revelation” in 2004. Hmm, I don’t like the direction Lee’s career is going…
Directed by Steve Boyum, “Timecop 2” makes perfect sense as long as it doesn’t open its mouth and start talking about timeline and whatnot. Of course this means that the movie doesn’t make sense about 90% of the time, since the topic of timelines, breaches in timeline, and timecopping comes up just about every other sentence. Fortunately this still leaves the film a guilty pleasure, with enough fisticuffs and special effects (although sparsely sprinkled throughout) to keep the casual moviegoer interested. The film’s middle section, where Chan has to keep skipping into the past to stop Miller, is the movie’s most hectic moments, and easily its best.
I suppose there’s something to be said about Thompson’s script trying to talk about the philosophy of time travel. Then again, once people start disappearing into groovy CGI “time bubbles” all of that academic stuff goes out the window. Not that one should mind, because the movie features some entertaining sequences, including one where Chan travels back to the ’80s and meets his own parents in a disco. Another sequence has Chan going into the Wild West and meeting his ancestors in a western setting.
It goes without saying that “Timecop 2” could have been a miserable failure without the presence of Jason Scott Lee. The Hawaiian actor elevates the film above its direct-to-video status, which is a good thing because villain Thomas Ian Griffith (“XXX”) is terribly uncharismatic as the insane do-gooder. So shut off your brain and enjoy the ride. “Timecop 2” is definitely better than the first, even if it still doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Steve Boyum (director) / Gary Scott Thompson (screenplay)
CAST: Jason Scott Lee …. Ryan Chan
John Beck …. O’Rourke
Josh Hammond …. Travis
Kenneth Choi …. Professor Josh Chan
Tava Smiley …. Tyler Jeffers
Steve Van Wormer …. Anderson
Thomas Ian Griffith …. Miller