- Directed by Alan J. Levi
- May 19, 1991
A young police officer injured in the line of duty helps unravel a citywide conspiracy with the assistance of Michael Knight and KITT.
Knight Rider 2000 is an early 90s made for TV movie that brings back the three major players (and consistent cast members) of the original Knight Rider for an adventure a story set in the far-off year of 2000 (or so). To be honest I’m not sure when this movie occurred in space-time as they give no hint of a date other than “the future.”
In this future we have a nationwide gun ban. Cops carry “ultrasound” pistols. License plates are scannable barcodes. Budget cuts have led to the advent of cryogenic prisons which is where we find our story’s villain who is a former cop named Thomas J. Watts (Mitch Pileggi) freed from prison early in a manner and context reminiscent of Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man.
Knight Rider has had a few iterations beyond this over the years. Beyond this there was a 1994 made-for-television movie loosely based on the 1980s series called Knight Rider 2010,
a 1997 spin-off television series called Team Knight Rider, and the 2008 made-for-television film Knight Rider which led to a series of the same name.
One thing that the assorted reboots and reimaginings lacked is the magic of David Hasselhoff. I say that because this movie works best when he is on the screen. And not because he was Michael Knight but because his performance sells the concept. There was always something in the way he played the part that made you believe. Perhaps he just embraced the silliness. Whatever it is it has been something that’s been sorely lacking from other versions.
What we get in Knight Rider 2000 looks a great deal like a handoff film though from what I have heard this was envisioned as a series of movie-of-the-weeks. The character appearing to be set up as the new Michael Knight, Officer Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman), is shot in the line of duty when she becomes entangled in a conspiracy involving the police and confiscated guns.
Susan Norman is just flat in the part. I know in the context of the story she has lost some memory and a part of herself because of the bullet wound and the chip implant but that does not necessarily equate to bland. Do something! Just don’t be flat with your delivery and your reactions. Data for example from Star Trek: The Next Generation was an android yet even from the start Brent Spiner had a little something to offer the audience. He reacted and just did not recite his lines.
As I said this is an apparent handoff film and as such Cartman Argenziano appears to essentially take over the role of Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare) in his part as Russell Maddock. Of all the characters Maddock probably gets the strongest arc as he starts out the film simply wanting to do his job with no passion for justice which is what the Knight Foundation is all about. By the end it’s clear he has changed and he’s more willing to do the right thing rather than solely look at the bottom line.
Unlike many reunion oriented films, in Knight Rider 2000 everybody’s not in a crappy place in their lives. At least not unnecessarily crappy. Michael had lost his sense of purpose and now runs a less than profitable charter fishing charter service. Devon himself seems a bit adrift without Michael. KITT is in the worst shape having been stripped down without Devon’s permission and sold off in bits and pieces to whoever would pay. It’s a change in life but not bordering on the ridiculously bad. This is framed as a result of losing direction and not writers putting everything in the toilet to give the characters something to go through.
One of the strikes against Knight Rider 2000 is the music. It’s just rather generic instrumental stuff. It doesn’t get you excited nor does it really set the tone of anything going on. There are a few moments here or there where it actually is appropriate but on the whole it just lacks action or adventure or any emotion. Something in an elevator or in a waiting room would have more impact than what we got here. It all sounds very incidental. How can you not use that iconic theme again? That really was dropping the ball.
I know this was the early 90s as well as being a TV movie but for a future set world it doesn’t look too futuristic. The biggest science fiction element in this future is the use of sonic weaponry by the police rather than handguns. There are elements of future history such as President Dan Quayle and the mention of there being 10 Star Trek films all starring the original cast. I wish! But there’s very little visually that says future that wasn’t found in the original series. It just needed something a little more in the background like control panel looking stuff or futuristic computer consuls. Something!
I was not keen on the new KITT body. Candy apple red seems a bit noticeable for a vehicle that’s supposed to be part of an independent police organization. Supposedly they could not get permission for the original body or something similar but I am not sure why they chose such a noticeable color.
The best thing Knight Rider 2000 has going for it is that it feels like an extension of the TV show. It’s like a two-part additional episode akin to series finale. The humor and the action fits right in with the series even if the music doesn’t. The returning actors slip right into their parts with the new actors fitting in with preestablished dynamics.
Knight Rider 2000 is a great reunion film with its weakest part the music and the character of Shawn. Those issues aside fans of the series will find plenty to enjoying as this feels like it belongs with that show. If you’re a fan of Knight Rider or just fun TV movies I recommend this one. Currently available on Netflix as of this writing.