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Film / Trancers

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A 1984 sci-fi film directed by Charles Band, starring Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt.

Jack Deth (Thomerson) is a cop from 300 years in the future who is sent back to 1985 to protect the ancestors of his leaders from a psychic killer. Released in Australia and possibly some other areas as "Future Cop".

Followed by five direct-to-video sequels released by Band's Full Moon Features.

Tropes in the first film:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Notable between Jack Deth and Lena. Tim Thomerson, who played Jack Deth, was 38 years old at the time and looked older than that with noticeable grey hair. Lena stated in the movie that she wasn’t born yet in 1963. As the movie was set around Christmas 1985, that means she was 21 years old at most. Helen Hunt was actually 20 years old at the time of filming.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The film takes place at Christmas time and draws attention to this numerous times, including Leena working as one of Santa's helpers at a mall.
  • Antagonist Title: "Trancers" are mind-controlled humans turned into zombie-like killers.
  • Arch-Enemy: Jack Deth has Martin Whistler, a mind-controlling criminal whom he regularly thwarted in the past, giving them a mutual hatred.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Build a receptacle into the handle of a gun to hold two uncushioned glass vials of the drug needed to return to the future, and firing the gun or tossing it around is probably going to break one of them.
  • Bullet Time: The first film contains an early, but spot-on example.
  • Big Bad: Martin Whistler is the one trying to make a Bad Future in the first film.
  • Covers Always Lie: The home video cover of the first film shows Jack wearing a futuristic helmet. At no point in any of the films does he actually wear a helmet.
  • Crapsack World: The future is a post-apocalyptic hellscape where climate change has led to such cities as Los Angeles being completely underwater, Society is slowly rebuilding with the help of a council of three, but a megalomaniac with the ability to brainwash people into his zombie slaves is trying to destroy that. And he's figured out time travel...
  • Diner Brawl: One of the first Trancer attacks occurs in a diner. The waitress attacks our protagonist while asking a diner patron about them.
  • Evil Plan: Martin Whistler seeks to kill his society's leaders' ancestors so the society won't exist.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The first film has some interesting nods.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Implied.
    Jack Deth: I'm from another time, another world. I don't even know what you people eat for lunch.
  • Gender Bender: McNulty in the first two movies inhabits the body of a young girl. Also, Jack in #6 inhabiting his daughter Josephine's body.
  • I Choose to Stay: With only one vial of the drug needed to return to the future, Jack can end the conflict with either one of the two ways: Choose to either kill Weisling (Whistler's ancestor) so that Jack can return to the future, or inject Weisling with the drug but Jack would be stranded in the past. He chose the latter option. The movie makes it sound like its a major life decision but it isn't really: There's an earlier scene that demonstrates that someone else from the future such as McNulty can easily bring Jack back to the future if they want to.
  • Identical Grandson: Jack and Phil.
  • It's a Small World, After All: Jack hops into his ancestor who had just met and slept with a girl who he promised to take to work in the morning, and at her work it turns out the Mall Santa she worked with was a trancer! What are the odds!?
  • Kick the Dog: Whistler orders an entire hobo camp massacred even after they turn over somebody he wants to kill. Then in the climax he reneges on his deal with Jack and forces him to watch an attempt on his love interest's life.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: Whistler has been in the past long enough and his ancestor was in a high enough position in the police department that the police could not be trusted.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Not eyes but skin, in this case.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Taken the wrong way by the man Jack Deth is trying to save.
    "Your name is 'Death'? Forget it, I'm not going up there!"
  • Perma-Stubble: Jack Deth. Interestingly, the reason for that was shown in-universe. Jack's ancestor had his face lathered up and was about to shave when Jack jumped into his body. Since Jack didn't know anything about twentieth-century shaving methods, he just wiped the foam off his face and went unshaven for the rest of the movie.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The homeless ancestor they pick up.
  • Secondary Character Title: The protagonist is Jack Deth. The antagonist is Martin Whistler. The Trancers are Whistler's mind slaves.
  • She Is All Grown Up: The little girl that McNulty jumped into in the first movie returns as a teenager in the second. It's the same actress too, which should give you an idea of how long it took to make the sequel.
  • The Sociopath: Martin Whistler, a criminal who tried to take over the world with mind controlled zombies, and when he's thwarted decides to prevent the people who saved the world from destruction in the backstory from ever existing.
  • Tagline: "His name is Deth. He hunts Trancers. Even in the 20th Century."
  • Terminator Twosome: Jack Deth and Whistler.
  • Time Stands Still: The time-slowing watch which stretches one second into ten.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Somehow, Weisling killing the ancestors of the Council only means that they disappear 300 years into the future. They can infer from this that Whistler's in Weisling's body.
    • Also, the hoohah with Jack's own time, where after #2 he can only physically travel through time.
  • Underwater Ruins: Before he goes to the past, Jack does scuba-diving in the old city of "Lost" Angeles.
    Leena: But you don't know the way!
    Jack: Yeah I do - I used to swim through here.
    Lenna: What?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jack took over the body of Phil in order to come to 1986. He never went back to the future. So what happened to Phil?