Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ron Silver, Mia Sara, Bruce McGill, Gloria Reuben. Written by Mark Verheiden. Directed by Peter Hyams. Rated R for violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.

Just when did real actors decide that the best move for their careers was appearing in a violent bullets-and-martial- arts flick starring an international action film star? First Oscar-winner Michael Caine ("Hannah and Her Sisters") showed up as the baddie in Steve Seagal's most recent opus "On Deadly Ground" and now Ron Silver ("Reversal of Fortune") and Mia Sara ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off") are slumming in the new Jean-Claude Van Damme flick "Timecop". The film, about a government agency that patrols time to keep history from being changed by unscrupulous time-travelers, is every bit as hokey as Van Damme's previous efforts although it actually features a discernible plot.

As the film embarks, it is the year 1994 and police officer Max Walker (Van Damme) has just accepted a new job so hush-hush that he can't even tell his wife Melissa (Sara) about what he'll be doing. It hardly matters, though, for Melissa soon dies when their house explodes and the end of a violent attack by unknown assailants.

The year is now 2004 and Walker has made a name for himself as one of the top agents of the Time Enforcement Commission. While on patrol he stumbles across a scheme in which a corrupt senator named McComb (Silver) has been sending people into the past to steal gold and manipulate stocks so that he can finance his campaign for the presidency. Teamed with an internal affairs agent (Gloria Reuben), who later turns out to be on McComb's payroll, Walker heads back to 1994 to prevent McComb's latest gambit. Every time he travels to the past and returns, something in 2004 has changed, such as the ownership of the company which created the time-travel technology.

Thwarted for the moment by McComb, Walker takes advantage of the fact that at this date in 1994 his wife has not yet died. His attempt to warn and save his wife comes at the beginning of a rather lengthy sequence in which the house is again attacked. Only this time, things are much different.

Van Damme, whose face is nearly as expressionless as fading action star Chuck Norris, hasn't bothered with anything as trivial as acting lessons in the time between films. This, coupled with the fact that the movie takes liberties with its own time-line logic, ensures that "Timecop" won't find many admirers in those who weren't already fans of Jean-Claude.

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