Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen
Running Length: 127 minutes
Synopsis: Set in the present, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) – the original hero of TRON – has been missing for over two decades, disappearing shortly after announcing that he has discovered a breakthrough in his research of cyberspace. His son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) becomes primary shareholder of ENCON, but has no interest in running the family business. His pseudo-presence in the company is not welcomed by anyone except for Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), an old family friend who is still looking out for the Flynn family’s interests. When Alan receives what seems to be a message from Flynn, Sam goes to Flynn’s Arcade to investigate, but is accidentally transported into cyberspace, where he discovers the world is now ruled by Flynn’s alter-ego, Clu (also Jeff Bridges). Sam finds that Flynn is now a recluse, aided only by the enigmatic Quorra (Olivia Wilde). Joining forces with his father and Quorra, Sam needs to find a way to escape cyberspace, and also to stop Clu from crossing over to the real world.
Review: While a fair number of viewers will look upon the original TRON fondly, it really isn’t a masterpiece by any measure – apart from the (then) amazing visuals, the film’s storyline and pacing were not great, and seen years down the road, TRON doesn’t stand up to the test of time. However, TRON has evolved into a cult classic, and understandably expectations were high for this sequel 28 years later. While TRON: Legacy would have probably been perfectly fine as a typical sci-fi action movie, it is weighed down by an overly self-important script that seems to want to elevate the film into greatness, but the attempt fails spectacularly. TRON: Legacy is watchable for its visuals, an excellent soundtrack and a handful of good action sequences, but with the confusing plot, middling performances and plodding pace, the resulting film is a very average one indeed.
Although spiritually a sequel to TRON, the look of the grid has evolved a fair bit due to the advancements of CGI, but it’s a change for the better. The environments are mostly enshrouded in darkness, punctuated only by bright neon strips of light in white, blue and orange, but it’s a very clean look that works very well in context. However, the simplicity of the environment also means the 3D is neither immersive nor very impressive – in fact, the 3D effect is so subtle in many scenes that it seems almost non-existent. As a film that was specifically shot in 3D (like Avatar), it’s a little disappointing that so little was done with it. Technology was also employed to render the young(er) faces Tron and Clu, and while it’s quite impressive, it hasn’t crossed the uncanny valley yet.
It’s arguably true that a movie of this nature doesn’t require much of a plot or thespian skills, but TRON: Legacy is sorely lacking in both. The film tries to be epic but falls far short – the plot is an incomprehensible mess, far more complex than it should be and explaining way too little, perhaps in an attempt to seem profound. While Jeff Bridges is perfectly serviceable as Flynn, Garrett Hedlund is unfortunately quite wooden in his portrayal as Sam and Olivia Wilde’s character is so one-dimensional she is reduced to being merely a pretty face and a pseudo love interest.
What TRON: Legacy manages to do reasonably well is in its action sequences, especially those found in the first half of the movie. In the second half, sadly, the action tapers off and is replaced by interminable chunks of dialogue and pointless exposition that just kills the pacing of movie entirely. Another highlight is the excellent soundtrack by French electronica duo, Daft Punk. Surprisingly, most of the score is still a classical one, but with electronic flourishes. It’s perhaps the only component of the film that successfully feels epic, but the rest of the film simply doesn’t match up.
Rating: * * (out of four stars)