This film's pedigree is worth noting: it played to crowds in its native Austria in 1984 under the title MORGEN GRAUEN (which can be translated either as "Morning Mist" or "Tomorrow's Cruelty"), then a redubbed, re-edited version appeared bearing a 1986 copyright with the moniker MORNING TERROR. Finally, in 1990, Americans got a look at it on home video...read more
This film's pedigree is worth noting: it played to crowds in its native Austria in 1984 under the title MORGEN GRAUEN (which can be translated either as "Morning Mist" or "Tomorrow's Cruelty"), then a redubbed, re-edited version appeared bearing a 1986 copyright with the moniker MORNING
TERROR. Finally, in 1990, Americans got a look at it on home video under the wholly misleading name TIME TROOPERS (which, however, dispenses with the ambiguity inherent in the German title). As it turns out, TIME TROOPERS is basically a low-key variation on the main premise of LOGAN'S RUN: in the
future, after "nuclear fire" has devastated the Earth, one city-state manages to rebuild a modern society. In order to maintain the status quo, the authorities issue every citizen of a certain age an "energy chip," which is a sort of all-purpose credit card. Used carefully, an energy chip should
last a person a lifetime. It had better, since those who let their energy credits expire too soon must die--either by their own hands or with the aid of "exit-men." Lenn Varta (Albert Fortell) is the best of these elite assassins, quick and efficient. Jakob (Hans Georg Panczak) is No. 2, and so
gung-ho to compete with Lenn he's even acquired Lenn's former lover, Rena (Barbara Rudnick), in a standard two-year state marriage contract. Lenn is a good guy at heart who really loves his current companion, Sara Fischer (Hannelore Elsner), so when the state's top killer discovers that his lover
is in touch with the rebel underground (she had to smuggle her aged father out when his energy credits ran low), he protects her. The government finds this out and sends Jakob to execute the pair. He gets Sara, but Venn tracks him back to his apartment for a routine shootout that ends,
predictably, with Venn and Rena reunited, facing an uncertain but free future in the wastelands beyond the government's reach.
TIME TROOPERS is more of a think piece than an action film or futuristic spectacle. The bland visuals rely primarily on a block of gray skyscrapers to convey the Orwellian ambience, and the main characters are not particularly interesting (a typical hazard in this genre), with the more memorable
dialog provided by the hero's back-talking computer. The best scenes belong to the several victims of the exit-men; one doomed bohemian type, who has burned through his credit in the pursuit of luxuries and good times, throws a "going-away party" with music, rich food, and all his friends present
to watch Lenn rub him out. The energy-chip concept is a clever idea of dystopian social control, although explanations of how the scheme works are unfortunately obscured by a haze of futurespeak in the film's early moments. Whatever name you choose to call it, TIME TROOPERS is not terribly
exciting. Still, it's not without interest, especially for science-fiction buffs who might want to compare it to the glitzy but shallow LOGAN'S RUN. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations.)
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