The River Wild – Timecop – tape 2306

Two movies here, both fun.

The River Wild was recording on the movie channel. Meryl Streep plays an expert oarswoman and all around outdoor person who takes her family on a river rafting holiday. Her marriage is shaky, because husband David Strathairn is spending all of his time at work rather than spend time with his family. But she makes the mistake of helping out Kevin Bacon and his friend, who turns out to be evil, probably because he can’t get a 4G signal on his EE phone.

Streep’s son is played by Joseph Mazzello, off of Jurassic Park. He’s a similar character here, striking up conversation with Bacon about his Lollapalooza baseball cap, and saying he was disappointed not to have seen Jane’s Addiction in concert before they broke up.

Meryl Streep

Husband Strathairn turns up at the starting point of the trip, unexpectedly but the atmosphere between him and Streep remains frosty – she introduces him as ‘the father of my son’ rather than her husband.

At first, Bacon and his friend, John C Reilly, just seem like slightly inept, slightly creepy rafters, but it soon becomes clear they’re far more malevolent. It’s a tense film, with great performances all round – Bacon’s boyish charm works really well when coupled with a dangerous streak, while Strathairn plays the meeker husband who has deeper resources than it first appears. Streep is as wonderful as ever, exactly who you’d want taking you down a dangerous river, and it’s really her movie. It’s a shame she doesn’t get more action roles, as on this evidence she’d more than hold her own in the genre.

Following the movie, there’s a trail for Springhill, the weird Sky soap which had more than a few Doctor Who writers on its staff.

This is a run-on recording, so the next movie followed straight afterwards on the same channel. It’s Jean Claude Van Damme’s greatest movie, Timecop. Well maybe I’m biased as I love time travel stories, but this one’s a hoot.

It’s got fairly good credentials, too. It’s based on a Dark Horse comic book series, with a screenplay by the two creators, Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert are producers, and it’s directed by veteran Peter Hyams, who also acts as Director of Photography, as he likes to do on his movies.

Plus, Van Damme’s co-star is the much missed Ron Silver who probably plays Van-Damme’s loyal partner.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course he’ll be a bad guy.

Ron Silver

There’s a good opening set in the civil war – a lone man holds up a convoy transporting confederate gold, and when they draw their pistols on him, he blows them all away with two very modern-looking machine guns.

Cut to modern-day Washington (1944), where a Senate committee discusses a brand new technological development – a German scientist, formerly of NASA, has developed time travel. The committee is briefed by Scott Lawrence on the perils of this new technology: “You can’t go forward because the future hasn’t happened yet.”

While Lawrence is outlining the possible perils – “Saddam Hussein finances a trip back to 1944. He gets our technology, and Iraq becomes the first country to get the atomic bomb” – One of the committee, Ron Silver, is clearly doing some calculations in his mind. He offers to chair the oversight on the creation of the Timecop programme, to protect the past from the present.

Next we’re in a mall, and we meet Mia Sara, who plays Melissa, Van Damme’s wife. (For ease of typing, Monsieur Van Damme will henceforth be referred to as JCVD).

Mia Sara

Their initial conversation is borderline creepy.

                           JCVD
                 There's never enough time...

                           Mia Sara
                 To do what?

                           JCVD
                 To Satisfy a woman.

ewwww. This whole scene in the mall is all foreshadowing and foreboding. Clocks strike the hour, lots of dialogue about time, JCVD glimpses some heavy-set men who practically have ‘thug’ tattooed on their foreheads.

Then it’s back home for some surprise sex. When I was younger, this kind of thing never bothered me – when I was very young, I guess it was a plus point, but now I’m older, and have younger children, the amount and level of nudity and sex in so much of Hollywood’s output in the 80s and 90s now takes me by surprise. There’s a short scene here, but it’s racier than you’d expect, although it’s not quite Game of Thrones level.

But, there’s not much time for smooching, as JCVD gets a call from the station that something’s up. And as he leaves the house (in the pouring rain again) he’s beaten up and shot in the chest by the two thugs he saw earlier. But luckily for him, he was on his way to work, wearing his bullet proof vest.

Then his whole house blows up, with his wife in it.

Boom

Then we have a nice cut – to Wall Street 1929. A banker has already pitched out of a high window onto the pavement, but we follow another who doesn’t seem worried by this. He sits down at his desk, pulls out that day’s New York Times, notes the headline about the huge market crash (for those viewers who hadn’t clocked all the other clues in the scene so far), then pulls out another newpaper – an edition of USA Today from 2004. Now he could have used the NYT from 2004, but visually that’s harder to read as an anachronism.

Then, to underline that it’s even our future, he turns off the radio and pulls out some new-fangled music player. No idea what this is, it’s not a minidisc, it’s too big to be Compact Flash (neither of which existed in 1994, I believe) but it’s not a bad stab at a futuristic music player. Not quite an iPod, though, is it? Oh for a special edition…

Music Player

His market musings are interrupted by the appearance of none other than JCVD – from thin air in a cutting edge CGI effect.

Timecop manifestation

It’s Morphtastic. But this isn’t the Van Damme we left earlier. His hair is longer, ironically making him look more 90s, not less. The trader is his ex-partner running a scam. But he reveals he’s working with Aaron McComb (Ron Silver) to finance his presidential campaign. His partner is so scared of the repercussions of testifying against McComb that he tries to makes a leap out of the window, but JCVD jumps after him and manages to transport him back to the future before he hits the ground.

Cut to T.E.C. Headquarters, 2004 (which, to be clear, is in the future when this film was made). Silver is there, saying he wants to shut down the timecops. Van Damme all but tells him he knows he’s involved in the scams. This cannot be a good move, but JCVD is nothing if not obstinate.

Later, he’s attacked in his home, and has to fight off the heavies in his underwear. Van Damme in his pants can mean only one thing: The Splits.

Van Damme Splits

Enter Gloria Reuben as Fielding, from Internal Affairs, sticking with JCVD because his ex partner was crooked. When they’re preparing to make another trip to the past to investigate another possible alteration, the pervy tech guy is watching virtual reality porn at work. Surely that’s a sackable offence?

There’s a lot of background chatter about how McComb’s presidential campaign is in the toilet, ad he’s going to lose big. Rule Number One – if a radio or TV newsreader says something, it’s almost certain to be relevant to the plot.

We get to see how they actually travel through time. It’s a strange rocket sled contraption that’s fired at a concrete wall, morphing back in time just before it hits. Why they have to have a concrete wall in the way is never explained. False Jeopardy, probably.

Rocket Sled

Oddly enough, and the film makes no attempt whatsoever to explain this, when they appear in the past the sled has gone and they’re usually walking. Although this time they appear in mid-air above one of the reflecting pools in Washington DC.

They’re back to 1994. The time incursion is traced to an old factory. Isn’t it always the way?

Danger Extreme Cold

‘DANGER: EXTREME COLD’ I wonder if this will become somehow relevant later?

The factory is the fabrication plant for Parker McComb Data Systems, the chip maker which, we learned earlier, Senator McComb used to (and currently does still) co-own.

When we get inside, we find McComb demanding that his partner, Parker, buy out his interest, because the plant isn’t making money. But then, Future McComb makes a very cool entrance.

A cool entrance

JCVD interrupts the conversation, and McComb gets to outline his political philosophy.

“We need a president who’s so rich he doesn’t need to listen to the special interests.”

“It’ll be like the 80s again. The top 10 percent get richer, the other 90% can emigrate to Mexico where they can live a better life.”

JCVD has it all under control, until officer Fielding turns her gun on him. She’s a traitor! Cue a big fight in the factory. There’s a nice moment when young McComb gets cut on face, and a scar magically appears on older McComb’s face.

And a bad guy gets his arm frozen and broken off, of course. This was a nice effect.

Frozen Arm

When JCVD gets back to the future, everything’s changed. McComb now owns the technology, and he’s way ahead of the polls. They’re dismantling the Timecop headquarters.

One problem that a lot of these future films have, is with the cars. They have self-driving cars, fair enough, but they’re all blocky and covered in loads of unnecessary detailing. It would play havoc with aerodynamics.

Ugly Future Cars

This is supposed to be a limousine.

JCVD decides to make one last trip to 1994 to find the traitorous Fielding. She’s still alive, in hospital, but not for long as the big henchmen kill her while Van Damme’s busy discovering his wife is pregnant because her blood test happened to be right next to Fielding’s.

Then it’s back to the mall for JCVD. I wonder if it’s called Twin Pines Mall? Older JCVD tells his wife he knows about her pregnancy, and from now on we’re replaying the events at the start of the movie, but changed because of the presence of older JCVD.

They end up back at the house, where old JCVD is able to take on some of the heavies.

There’s a nice action moment when JCVD and Mia Sara are hanging from a gutter, or rather, he’s hanging on to the gutter and  Mia Sara, and the bad guy is treading on his fingers. They can see his gun almost in reach below the gutter. Cut to the bad guy and he’s shot full of holes. How dod JCVD manage that with both hands full?

He didn’t – it was Mia Sara.

Older McComb is also there, and intends to blow up the house with everyone in it. He doesn’t care that he would die, because the younger McComb will live, create a new future in which he won’t have to come back.

But JCVD has one last trick up his sleeve – younger McComb walks in the door. JCVD left a message with the Senate, and he turns up as requested. And to settle the matter, we finally get to see what happens when two incarnations of the same person collide. It’s not pretty.

Silver vs Silver

And after all that, when JCVD returns to the future, McComb is a distant memory, everything is a lot rosier, and for that final happy moment, his wife is still alive, as is his young son.

After the movie, there’s a Top Ten rundown of the top movies in cinemas. They play the Twister trailer that keeps cutting to black, and thus makes it look like the picture is faulty. They also play trailers for Escape from LA (Why wasn’t that a better movie?), Emma, Striptease and Independence Day.

The tape ends here.

Adverts:

  • Galaxy Caramel
  • Dolmio
  • Wash & Go
  • Flash
  • TV Licence
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Discovery Channel
  • Centrium
  • trail: James Dean Day
  • Granada Channel
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • Orange
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Microsoft

  • Raleigh
  • Dolmio
  • Discovery Channel
  • Haze 2in1
  • Mr Sheen
  • Fresh’n Up
  • Bacardi Spice
  • trail: Action Week
  • Granada Men & Motors – yuck
  • trail: Law & Order, New York Undercover
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