For those of you who have been waiting for this generation’s Star Wars, the wait is over. Tron: Legacy is not only similar to Star Wars in many (perhaps too many) of its plot points, it’s just as much of a visually-stunning, game-changing movie as Star Wars was in its day.
Unfortunately (as with Star Wars), its effects are light years ahead of the script and most of the performances. But really, does that even matter? Uh, no.
The simple truth is that you will be dazzled, you will be amazed, and you will almost think the roof is caving in, thanks to the pounding sound, including Daft Punk’s trippy, bass-heavy soundtrack.
And, that, friends, is what movie-going is (at least sometimes) all about.
Tron: Legacy picks up seven years after the 1982 original. Computer genius Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has built Encom into a Microsoft-like giant of industry. But then he up and disappears, leaving behind his young son Sam.
Flash to the present day, as Sam gets a page (Mmm, pagers. Remember those?) from his dad’s old office above Flynn’s Arcade. When he goes to investigate, he gets pulled onto ‘The Grid’ (the in-computer network) just as his dad had been, back in the old days.
And with that, we enter a sublimely eye-popping world of neon-like razzle-dazzle that makes the original movie look like a four-year-old’s pencil drawing.
Sam is immediately dropped into a series of survival games—‘Death by Frisbee’ and ‘Light Cycles’ among them—only to make it through and earn the attention of Clu (a digitally-younger Jeff Bridges that’s surprisingly well done), the nasty computer ‘virus’ who has taken over the Grid.
From here, the plot gets way more convoluted (and occasionally incoherent) than it needs to. There’s a conflict between users and programs, something about isomorphic algorithms, and hear tell of a miracle that will supposedly turn the world on its head. When you boil it down, it’s just Sam finding his dad (present-day Jeff Bridges) and his dad’s nubile companion Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and then working together to try to rid the Grid of the bad guys.
Garrett Hedlund is perfectly fine as Sam, but it’s a much more physical part than anything else. He spends the first hour jumping around, doing mid-air flips, and running for his (digital) life. Bridges seemed to have a ball being back on the grid—maybe even too much. He plays Flynn as a bit of a Zen-master yoga guy, complete with occasional surfer-dude lingo. One can see what the screenwriters were going for—Flynn is perpetually trapped in the early 80s—but, like Luke Skywalker’s incessant whining Star Wars, it becomes more of an annoyance than anything.
In the end, of course, none of this matters. You’re not here for nuanced characters and a deeply moving script, and director Joseph Kosinski (already tapped for the 2012 remake of Disney’s other old sci-fi gem, The Black Hole) knows that.
All he does is take your eyes and ears on a trip that will, frankly, blow your mind.
Tron: Legacy is eye (and ear) candy to the nth degree.