When an unstoppable army of Trancers threatens to destroy civilization in the 23rd century, stranded time traveler Jack Deth (Thomerson) is ripped from the life he is attempting to build in 1992 and sent to 2005 to change history and stop the Trancers from even coming into existence in the first place. This mission is going to be trickier than Trancer hunt Jack has ever undertaken, as he discovers the origin of the Trancers can be traced to a top secret installation opeated by the United States Marine Corps.
"Trancers III" is darker in tone and it feels like it was shot on a lower budget than the first two installments of the film; we don't see the Trancers dissolve after they've been killed, for example. It's also the first installment that wasn't directed by Charles Band, but instead saw its screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner also taking on the directorial duties.
These changes could possibly have added up to an inferior film, but they didn't. "Trancers III" has a more cohereent storyline than "Trancers II" and it was the first first entry in the series that wasn't directed by Charles Band himself, and the darker tone makes it feel like the stakes are higher than they've ever been before. The only humor present in this film are Jack Deth's hardboiled detective-style wisecracks and narration but they're as sharp here as they've ever been.
While the film continues to play with the notion of tangled and confused timelines that was introduced in "Trancers II", it ultimately fails to take full advantage of these concepts, doesn't provide as strong an ending as it might have had, and even undermines the time travel rules that had established the series in the first place due to what I am certain is Charles Band's desire to keep the door open for more sequels.
The mission Jack Deth undertakes in this film is to stop the Trancers before they even become a threat in the future. I doubt I'm spoiling anything by telling you that he succeeds, but, according to what we've seen in other installments, that success should have resulted in Jack never being sent back into the past to begin with as there never would have been a Whistler for him to hunt or even a reason for Jack to be a Trancer Hunter.
The perfect ending for this film would have been if it had taken the series full circle by having Philip Deth, the man whose body Jack Deth's conciousness is actually inhabiting wake up to play out the scene where Lela and Jack first met, but this time without Jack's mind in his body. Failing that, future Trancer sequels SHOULD have dealt with why Jack's future even exists, as he should have unraveled it in 2005. They don't, however, but instead go off in a more fantasy-oriented direction, jettisoning most sci-fi elements as Jack Deth ends up in a parallel dimension where magic trumps his technological toys.
"Trancers III" should have been the end-point for the series, and I recommend that you make it so. The sequels that follow are far inferior to this one (despite being written by Peter David, author of "Howling Mad") and I think you should be left with Jack's greatest adventure as the last outing you witness, even with the imperfect ending.
Trancers III (aka "Future Cop III" and "Deth Lives")
Starring: Tim Thomerson, Melanie Smith, Andrew Robinson, Tony Pierce, Megan Ward, Helen Hunt, Stephen Macht and Dawn Ann Billings
Director: C. Courtney Joyner