In 1989 computer genius Kevin Flynn disappeared. Over 20 years later his rebellious son Sam, heir to the ENCOM corporation, enters The Grid – a digital world where his father resides along with his creation Clu. Can father and son reunite to prevent Clu’s evil plot coming to fruition?
Tron, a flop on release this unique film with its distinct aesthetic became a cult favourite and a sequel was somehow inevitable. Does Tron: Legacy live up to its predecessor? It’s certainly a welcome return to a totally original universe with a bigger budget providing even more dazzling creations but suffers from the same flaws, namely style over substance. It’s a conventional good versus evil tale mixed with father/son angst salvaged by Jeff Bridges’ performance in the dual roles of Kevin Flynn and the younger mutinous Clu – a not entirely successful CG augmented character. Bridges brings his familiar laconic charm to Flynn now a Zen-like mentor, a god in exile regretting his past mistakes but still enthralled by the world he has created. Olivia Wilde is feisty and engaging as his protégé Quorra, who would’ve been a more appealing lead than the bland Garrett Hedlund as Sam. He’s supposed to be the hero audiences root for but is constantly outshone by his co-stars.
There are deeper elements bubbling under the surface; the relationship between the creator and his creation, the father and son bond echoed in the connection between Flynn and Clu, parallels with the fallen angel cast out by god. But these are all viewer interpretations that if made less opaque could’ve added an interesting metaphysical depth. As it stands director Joseph Kosinski is content to provide cool action scenes and a lavish world full of neon ships and lightcycles set to an impressive soundtrack. Daft Punk, so perfectly suited to the landscape of Tron that they make a logical cameo, provide this powerful score that whilst not as daring as Wendy Carlos’ work on Tron adds a sense of epic grandeur the script often lacks. In fact it would certainly be a less compelling film without their input.
Tron: Legacy overloads the senses with exciting set pieces and another effortlessly appealing performance from Jeff Bridges, as well as a strong supporting role for Michael Sheen who appears to be channelling David Bowie. But it fails to really push the concept forward in any bold new directions, entertaining on a purely visual rather than narrative level. The inclusion of Cillian Murphy in a brief uncredited cameo hints at a possible villain for Tron 3, but if audiences are to enter this world for a third time a more dynamic plot is needed to do full justice to this unquestionably impressive digital universe.