After four years, Jake Cardigan is prematurely awoken from his fifteen year cryogenic punishment to a world very different than the one he knew. Much more than before 'Tek', the highly-addictive electronic designer narcotic of the 21st century, seems to be prevalent. His wife has divorced him and disappeared together with their son. He wants them back and he wants justice for those undercover policemen who were murdered by unknown conspirators which led to his imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. He links up with his ex-partner Sid Gomez, now also an ex-cop, and they go to work for the mysterious Bascom who owns and runs the giant Cosmos security corporation. Their first job is a seemingly easy missing persons case trying to locate a missing scientist who may have developed a crystal to destroy Tek chips. The more the two men investigate the more the dark and powerful forces of the hidden Tek lords are sent to thwart them. What is the connection between this case and his ... Written by
Mark Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The TekWar franchise managed to support a long series of books, comic books, TV movies, and a TV, yet I never really met anyone who professed to be an actual TekWar fan. Instead from most people I got the vague sense that the series had been solely made and supported on the strength of being associated with William Shatner, so I figured this premier TV movie was as good a way as any to see if that was fair.
TekWar is stuffed to the gills with elements that are hopelessly hokey, yet it remains a curiously very watchable ninety minutes. In essence, this is a noir story of wrongful accusation, transplanted to the setting of a drug war in a cyberpunkish future. The fixation on virtual reality (that's what the drug Tek amounts to) is very dated to this time when VR was the technology fad of the day, just about every element of the bright, blippy production and design is cheesy to the point of laughable, and the dialogue is saturated with gangster-movie phraseology. But the basic story of a future cop wrongly convicted and pulled from cryogenic freezing years early (though why is cryogenic freezing considered an equal punishment to prison if one cannot perceive time passing?) is good material.
The budget doesn't seem to have been huge, but serendipitously that means some of the modified props have a genuine "a few years into the future" look to them. While a lot of the representations of technology look very 18994-trying-to-be-cutting edge, many of the concepts about where technology was going are actually quite sound.
In fact, the whole thing could have had its best side brought out if it were streamlined a little bit. Cut out some of the longer scenes that just show Tek working or show a visual representation of people hacking the future computers, cut out some of the more involved guesswork and intrigues that detract from Jake's personal story, and you could have a pretty strong SF drama with the suspense of a man trying to clear his name and the human interest of his trying to find his lost son and the wife that betrayed him.
Shatner's direction, though, if it does one thing, keeps the story moving despite sections that could easily bog down. He gives himself a supporting but important role, and is quite believable stealing some scenes as a powerful, manipulative politico/businessman. The rest of the cast is mostly adequate, with Greg Evigan putting a lot of energy into his lead as Cardigan but not really handling his big emotional moments. Torii Higginson stands out as Beth Kittridge.
TekWar doesn't escape the more ludicrous trappings of its status as an action-oriented TV movie from 1994 and set in the future, but beyond that's there's an interesting story in there. No concept is huge enough to make TekWar forever memorable, but the genre combination of noir- detective with cyberpunk-drugland is enough to be interesting. I can see why the series would have continued, but I can also see why it didn't generate a huge amount of real enthusiasm either.
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