Tron: Legacy is a film that has been hinted at since the 1990s, however, excitement sky-rocketed in 2008 after a teaser trailer, helmed by Joseph Kosinski, was screened at the San Diego comic con. Of course, reception was spectacular, thus allowing Disney to green-light a sequel to one of their most subtly darkest (and in my opinion, greatest) films, TRON, which was released in 1982 by director Steven Lisberger. Now the reason why TRON was so successful was because it was shockingly modern for the time — attracting attention to the budding mass media empire of the 90s. But in the case of Tron: Legacy, a sequel that arrives 28 years later, relevancy is not an issue, as we’ve become so familiarized with television, video games, the internet, etc. Perhaps this is why Kosinski’s revisiting to “The Grid” feels so stale, or maybe it’s just the fact that Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz’s screenplay is just about as robotic as Daft Punk’s signature soundtrack. Honestly, it’s a bit of both, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the film.
Set in the present, Tron: Legacy chronicles the story of Sam Flynn, the renegade son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who you may remember became the CEO of ENCOM at the end of the original movie. Regardless, he’s missing, leaving a history of “lunacy,” selfishness, and complexity. “What becomes of Flynn’s legacy and the future of ENCOM all depend on his now orphaned little boy,” reporters gloated at the eve of his disappearance. Under new management, the company has successfully created a plethora of technological advances, of which includes a new Operating System, which is to be sold and not released for free to the public — a decision that Kevin would simply not endorse. Regardless, this is where Sam comes into play — he steals the program and leaks it (then pulling off a high-octane escape plan that includes jumping off a building using a parachute). But life is about to become a lot more serious for Sam (Garrett Hedlund), a freeloader who lives in a garage under the city’s bridge, as he receives word on his father’s whereabouts (via a pager no less!), thus leading him to the ‘ol Flynn arcade, where he is pulled into “The Grid,” where his father has been living for 20 years.
The place is in a dire state of chaos as Clu (Jeff Bridges), a program created by Kevin that was meant to ensure the creation of “a perfect world,” but who malfunctioned, resulting in a tyrannical ruler, continues to rid the world of what he believes to be error. Rounding out the cast is a gorgeous Olivia Wilde, who plays Quorra, a program who has remained loyal to Kevin through his years of hiding out. She has retained a childlike innocence that is perfect for her adventures with the father and son as they try to save this digital frontier. Also lurking about is a suitably androgynous Michael Sheen, who plays Caster, a mysterious figure who claims that he can get “anyone anywhere.”
Once you get past the beautiful yet modest landscapes which mold together black and neon colors for a wonderful effect, and of course, Wilde’s natural beauty, there is little to distinguish Tron: Legacy from the rest of the action/adventure schlock that is continuously being dumped on us. This is due to subpar performances from the entire cast, gimmicky 3D effects, which are pretty much nonexistent, and the awkward pairing of an age regressed computer generated face of Jeff Bridges and his voice for Clu’s character. However, you somewhat become more acquainted with the stylistic choice as the film progresses, in fact, it becomes somewhat tolerable during the film’s second act.
There are a couple of things that I really enjoyed about Tron: Legacy, namely, its sociopolitical messages which led to some really excellent scenes. “The film is a celebration of what it means to be human,” Wilde has said during an interview about the film, and I do happen to agree with her. The entire basis of the film’s plot is an in-depth allegory of the idea of a “utopia.” This is most explicitly exemplified in Clu’s character, who is an extension of Kevin. This means that Clu has inherited some of Kevin’s flaws, already making his task of sculpturing a “perfect world” absolutely futile. Understanding this leads to one of my favorite scenes in the film, where Clu speaks to an entire battalion of his cybernetic troops, drawing inspiration from Adolf Hitler, a clear parallel to his character in that both had sick aspirations for building this “perfect world.” This particular sequence is incredibly haunting. In this, Kitsis and Horowitz, ingeniously purport that what makes us human is our imperfections — amen! Now if only the duo could have worked just as hard on their dialogue, which is atrocious in places.
But something that I’m still undecided about is the action sequences. They were entertaining; don’t get me wrong, although the constant slow-motion effect has been overdone to the point where I just wanted to slap the person who was sitting right next to me (I’m obviously a violent person when it comes to movies). Regardless, I still enjoyed the light-cycle races and the disc . . . uhm, fighting.
Tron: Legacy is very reminiscent of my experiences at the arcade. After leaving Kosinski’s ambitious sequel, I felt satisfied like I did after beating the high score on my favorite game. However, I couldn’t help but to want more — in the case of game play, I was out of quarters; in the case of Tron: Legacy, I’m just outta’ luck