by Brice Beckham

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD! If Timecop is burning a hole in your Netflix queue, bookmark this for later.

There are dozens of delightfully kooky fan theories meandering around the interwebs, leaning through doorways at Reddit forums, raising their eyebrows and generally being impressed with themselves as they eagerly pervert your perceptions of cherished film sagas. Maybe you heard the one about Ferris Bueller being Cameron Frye’s very own Tyler Durden. Or the somewhat disturbing but grudgingly satisfying Pixar Theory of Everything.

Well, bust out whatever remains of the conspiracy lobe of your brain, because I’m about to DETONATE it with perhaps the most plausible fan theory yet…

Lincoln — Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s sedately-epic historical drama — is secretly a universe-bending sequel to the 1994 JCVD sci-fi/action flick, Timecop.

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Don’t pretend to be so confused, guys. The secret’s out.

In this sequel, an evil plot by would-be profiteers from the future has resulted in the premature assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Time Enforcement Officer Max Walker (originally played by everyone’s favorite splitztastic Belgian Street Fighter, Jean-Claude Van Damme) has been sent undercover to the 1860s (after undergoing reconstructive surgery to resemble everyone’s favorite Chameleon Man, Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis) to replace the president and carry out his vital political destiny, thereby preserving our timeline and the blissful, racially-harmonic, slave-labor-free world as we know it.

Best. President. Ever.

Best. President. Ever.

“So, you’re telling us that this humanizing biography of one of our nation’s greatest leaders was actually going for the same revisionist fantasy audience as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?” Yes, yes I am. And you don’t believe me now, but rest assured, by the time I finish pointing out all the signs, you will. May it please the court, I submit the following into evidence…

Exhibit A – THE SUPPORT TEAM

I’ll lead off with the most compelling clue, because obvious Timecop is obvious. Check this out: Both movies share not one, but TWO major cast members.

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Gloria Reuben and Bruce McGill in both the futuristic 1990s and the more recent mid-19th century.

This can’t simply be the coincidental casting of two talented performers, because, really? These two? I mean, I appreciate D-Day as much as the next guy, but neither of these actors is packing in the star power here. No, the only possible explanation is that Lincoln is actually one of the Further Adventures of Timecop, with a mission so crucial that a long-awaited DESK JOCKEY TEAM-UP was required. Like Q before them, risking life and limb to aid 007 in the field when he went rogue, Officer Walker’s most trusted colleagues had to ride along for backup on this one!

Now, you might be wondering why Sarah Fielding (Gloria Reuben), who betrayed Max Walker so callously in the first Timecop, would be among those chosen to watch his six. Could he ever trust his ex-partner enough to give her a second chance at redemption? Let’s consider that for a moment.

When Fielding first sold him out to McComb, she was in dire financial straits, and under the threat of having her whole family erased from existence. The two arrived at a tentative reconciliation before she was murdered in her hospital bed. Then, once Fielding was restored to life in a timeline free of those perils, Walker seemed to have forgiven her enough to crack a joke about her unceremonious deflowering as a teenager. Even assuming that he harbored some lingering doubts, their subsequent years of service together in the TEC (nearly two decades, if canon is meant to keep pace with real-world release dates) would have allowed her ample opportunity to prove her loyalty. And on a purely superficial level, her ethnicity implies that failure in this particular assignment could be disastrous for generations of her own ancestors. So we can safely postulate that Fielding and Walker are, for the purposes of this installment, faithful comrades in arms.

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“Just doing some punch-up on the ol’ Emancipation Proclamation. ‘All slaves are, and henceforward shall be free… except the Fielding family.” How’s that grab ya?”

Interestingly, Matuzak (Bruce McGill) was also killed before being re-existed by Walker’s past-kicking, ripple-squashing, history preserve-a-palooza. So they both owed him big. Maybe he leveraged these favors to get them to enlist? Since “Kryptic” Tony Kushner and “Secretive” Stevie Spielberg didn’t see fit to show us the mission briefing, or ANY of the future events surrounding Operation: Almost Abe, we can only speculate.

Exhibit B – THE REAL ASSASSINATION

One of the most revealing scenes in Lincoln takes place in the First Couple’s bedroom, in which Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) and her husband discuss their personal lives, marital idiosyncrasies, fears of the unknown and strategies for the future. This is where we find out the reason for Officer Walker’s Quantum Leap into the role of POTUS 16.

In a deceptively offhand way, Mary mentions her “carriage accident,” insisting that it wasn’t an accident at all and she was in fact the collateral victim of an attempt on the president’s life. I posit to you now that this attempt was SUCCESSFUL, and the actual Abraham Lincoln died before pushing through the passage of the 13th Amendment. Unable to prevent the assassination, TEC did the next best thing… they replaced the dead president with a live undercover agent — Walker — who dutifully acted as decoy, ensuring the constitutional abolition of slavery and [other Lincoln achievements] until that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre, when he was relieved of his post in the final hour by Lincoln’s corpse (the corpse having been sent through a time portal after the carriage incident and kept on ice at the TEC morgue in 2024 or whenever). When you look at all the facts, it’s clear that this is the scenario the filmmakers intended.

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“He’s in a better place now… with cool gadgets and self-driving cars and stuff.”

Exhibit C – THE BOAT DREAM

In the opening of this same bedroom scene, Lincoln describes to his wife a recurring dream he has every time he prepares to go into battle, in which he is standing on the deck of a ship…

LINCOLN (V.O.): “…The ship is moved by some terrible power, at a terrific speed. Though it’s imperceptible in the darkness, I have an intuition that we’re headed towards a shore. No one else seems to be aboard the vessel. I’m alone.”

Spielberg’s visual realization of the dream depicts the shore slipping farther away as he gets closer, almost as if space was distorting in front of him. Duh! THIS IS THE TIME POD!! He’s recounting the experience of rocket-sledding into the past in a vehicle that mysteriously disappears when he arrives! (That’s a head-scratcher from the first Timecop and a topic of much debate. Unfortunately, Lincoln does little to illuminate the bizarre and inconsistent mechanics of time travel in this franchise.)

Hiiiighwaaay… to… the… Danger Zone!

So why is he confiding this to Mary? It could be therapeutic, a way for him to talk about his feelings without blowing his cover. Perhaps he’s clouding the truth in metaphor to shield her from things she couldn’t possibly accept or understand. On the other hand, it’s conceivable that Walker himself is suffering from a sort of amnesia and has forgotten the life he left behind. Maybe he has come to believe he really is Lincoln. Whatever the answer, it’s a layer to Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance that only serves to make this sequel even more fascinating than the original.

Exhibit D – LINCOLN DOESN’T KNOW THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

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“Maybe if you hum a few bars! JK, I’m clueless over here.”

The very first scene of Lincoln finds Abe hanging out with soldiers (Max Walker’s kind of people!) while they wait to ship out. He is approached by a few admirers, one of whom begins to recite the Gettysburg Address… sort of like the lounge pianist who plays a few notes of a signature tune in order to coax the reluctant Broadway star in the corner to “do a little number for us.” But does Lincoln take the mic? No. Instead, he lets the flustered young man continue until his memory of the speech gives out. Then, instead of helping him along, Lincoln waits for ANOTHER soldier to pick up where the first one left off! This would seem to indicate that “Honest Abe” never learned the famous oration and is tap dancing around his own ignorance. Could it be that Walker didn’t do his homework?

The final pieces of the puzzle come from other filmmakers who know what’s up:

Exhibit E – THIS:

AND THIS:

Looks like the idea of Lincoln dispensing justice and wisdom across history is not a new one. Dare I say… BASED ON A TRUE STORY??

The defense rests.

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