Time Runner (1993) — Mark Hamill saves himself as a baby

“I think your alien visa just expired!”

Justin’s rating: Smarty McFly this ain’t

Justin’s review: I don’t know about you, but I find Mark Hamill’s post-Star Wars era really interesting, especially after he surfaced with 1989’s Slipstream and started taking on a wide variety of roles through the ’90s. He had an odd cameo in Sleepwalkers, starred in the superhero Guyver, branched out into video games (Wing Commander), TV (The Flash, SeaQuest DSV), and voicework for cartoons (most famously as Batman’s Joker). By the end of the decade, he’d been in scores of projects — but very few that revolved around his name and star power. Maybe if he had capitalized quicker on his Star Wars fame things would’ve gone different, but I consider his career trajectory to be quite satisfactory all the same.

So it’s certainly fascinating to watch Time Runner, a movie that banked hard on the recognizability of a man who was transitioning from coasting on Luke Skywalker’s robes to a hard-working character and voice artist.

In a hilarious coincidence, the opening of this movie — October 6, 2022 — takes place just a couple of weeks after I watched this movie. Ah, 2022 did seem like such a futuristic year at one point, didn’t it? So I guess we get totally invaded by aliens this year, which is a bummer since we have no real way to defend ourselves. Fleeing an exploding space station, Raynor (Hamill) flies through a wormhole to 1992 and has an opportunity to change history for the better.

There he bumps into Karen the Scientist (Rae Dawn Chong, Commando) and an adventure-seeking mechanic named Arnie (Gordon Tipple), his only help as he evades evil government agents. Turns out that the aliens had sent secret agents to infiltrate the U.S. and pave the way for the invasion force, so they’ve got a sinister Brion James as a future world president to contend with as well. Oh, and Raynor has to protect himself as a baby, considering that he happened to come back on the week of his own birth.

That all sounds cool, doesn’t it? Time Runners is very much one of those movies where it comes across as promising on paper, but in execution it’s poorly directed, dully acted, and lacking the special effects budget it needs to pull off the scifi tech. It’s a sign of a bad director when he slows down the action during “tense” moments and cranks up the super-annoying soundtrack. Even Hamill doesn’t add much to this lame B-movie, spitting out time travel jargon and action cues but doing nothing more than that.

In retrospect, I’m sincerely glad that this wasn’t where Hamill’s career bottomed out before he turned into a “Whatever happened to that guy?” trivia question. It’s just too bad that he felt he had to go slumming in the dregs of low budget excess like this.

Didja notice?

  • Ugh I hate opening credits that show you a bit of action, then stop to display some names, then go back to the action, and so on
  • The aliens firing sound like Star Trek torpedo noises
  • You’d think that the aliens would destroy the space station BEFORE earth, but you do you, E.T.
  • The government likes to show up in slow motion with ominous music playing
  • Man the soundtrack (music and effects) is so overblown
  • Aliens kill through light massage
  • It’s a tube of magic healy stuff!
  • “I don’t have a choice!” Uh yes, yes you do
  • It’s super-easy to steal planes from small airports — and convenient!
  • “I hope Carl’s all right.” [scene right before: Carl’s head is crushed]
  • Those are the worst campaign placards I’ve ever seen

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