Truth be told, I’m not sure how many people of my generation saw the original Tron (1982), and quite frankly, I can’t blame them. Tron is/was very strange, and didn’t make much sense. Introducing the idea that programs can be personified is extraordinarily absurd for such a tech-savvy generation. But Disney had the brass cahonies to make a sequel, and I think that’s only because they knew they could, despite all logic.
Here we are given Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), techie wiz-kid and son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). After having been missing for 20 years, Flynn’s company ENCOM is now taken over in part by Flynn’s old partner Alan (same actor Bruce Boxleitner, who is also Tron in this and the original – I had no idea) and his rival’s son, Edward Dillinger (holy crap, Cillian Murphy – how’s it going?); in the meantime, Sam pays visit to the corporation every year to pull elaborate pranks…just because of angst I guess. Long story short, Sam discovers The Grid – our old friends Tron and Clu (a de-aged Jeff Bridges) are terribly corrupted and wish to take over the real world, “isomorphic algorithms” (ISOs) are the link between human genetics and technology (…I think…) and Kevin is now some sort of existentialist exiled genius. Neat.
So right away, I’m going to forget about the ISO thing merely because of Tron logic. But *spoiler alert from here on in* how was Clu’s emergence into the real world going to work? The portal was how Sam and Kevin, real people, “users” got in, so what would happen if a program did that? I know there was a thing that he could only go through with Kevin’s data-disc, but I don’t think that copies genetic material or anything, so would he still be a program? And because The Grid is a world containing programs, can’t the “corrupted files” (I mean, the thing makes a whole corrupted army) go out and terrorize servers everywhere with viruses and such? Or is The Grid really so contained that creating a portal is the only way to branch out? Maybe that’s it…jeeze Inception didn’t make me think this much. Okay, if you’re going to create this Tron world, please do a better job at explaining this stuff.
But I’m not just here to bitch and moan- there were actually a lot of things about this movie that I really enjoyed, for instance, I like how these programs have a kind of personality based around their programmers (I’d love to meet the guy who came up with Castor/Zuse), but still stick to what they’re made for – which explains why Clu has this Romantic system, complete with Coliseum: while building this “perfect” society, he still wants to be entertained with his games, much like Kevin. The action’s great, as are the visuals (I’m so glad they didn’t use the weird lighting from the first one), and the score is absolutely amazing – thank you, Daft Punk! (Though there were some times where it reminded me a little too much of Inception…hm.)
There’s still just another thing that bothers me: what’s up with Sam? He’s so terribly one-dimensional, there’s really not much to him. Is he pranking his company to get back at his dad for leaving, or does he want them to kiss his ass? If he’s that smart, why doesn’t he suck it up and take over? Was this explained, or was I too distracted? I know he feels some sort of resentment and whines about his dad…but nothing else is really that memorable – it’s like we’re given a start to a solid plot, but then shiny things are flashed at us forever and then nothing’s resolved – he just speeds into the morning with Quorra and manages not to get bugs in their eyes or teeth – it’s incredible! I guess that “change the world” stuff is coming in the alleged sequel.
In the end, Tron: Legacy is full of gorgeous style and incredibly entertaining, but unfortunately lacks, in my opinion, crucial substance.
Final Grade: B-