Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger...
According to director Joseph Kosinski, Tron: Legacy is a film that’s very dear to his and Jeff Bridges’ hearts, and has been years in the making. But, after much anticipation, the time has finally come to enter the grid once more, and get down with Flynn, Tron and the rest of the crew that signed on for this neon-tastic upgrade.
Twenty years has passed, and Kevin Flynn (Bridges), creator of the game “Tron”, has been mysteriously absent for all these years. Troubled by his father’s disappearance, a grown-up Sam (Garrett Hedlund) spends most of his time playing pranks on his dad’s former company. This all changes when he’s sent to his dad’s old arcade to investigate a strange message, and is subsequently transported into the digital world of “Tron”, where he must defeat Clu (a clone of his father) in order to escape.
Within the first few minutes of this sequel you’re hooked and ready to shout Kosinski’s achievement from the roof tops. Sweeping shots of a Gotham-like city, and images of Sam weaving through the night’s traffic to the scintillating, electronic sounds of Daft Punk are captivating. But just as Sam parachutes to a safe landing after pulling off his latest prank, the audience alike is brought back down to earth, as the lack of story from here on out becomes apparent.
This is the main problem with Tron: Legacy. For all the wonderful, dazzling effects, the picture is let down by a tired and thoughtless script, with cringe-worthy dialogue like, “you’re messing with my zen thing, man” and “let’s split” from old man Flynn, and “It’s big” and “warm” from Sam responding to a warrior program (Olivia Wilde) who asks him to describe the sun. From that astute observation, the “Tron” legacy looks to be in safe hands!
With such writing, it’s not long before the script becomes overpowered by the imagery and the soundtrack, which are essentially there to compliment the storytelling.
There are also a lot of references in the film, creating a throwback feel. It’s evident that we’ve entered the new millennium with this glossy offering, but Kosinski seems to have included every little thing that he enjoyed from the original film, as well as growing up, and so, like a sweet, it almost becomes sickly. There’s Blade Runner, Power Rangers, The Big Lebowski, ninja sequences, “Suzuki” ads, air hockey, and a ridiculously odd scene in which Michael Sheen, appearing to be channelling David Bowie and Willy Wonka, leads the gang through a futuristic Studio 54. It’s all a bit too much.
But for all the negatives, there are a couple of positives. It can’t be said enough, but if only for the sound and visual spectacle, Tron: Legacy should be seen. You’ll have to put up with a Beowulf-looking CGI Flynn/Clu at times, but scenes like the climax, in which Tron and Flynn’s fates are decided, make it worth the ride.
If you haven’t seen the original, not to worry. The background and all you need to know is quickly explained. It’s harder, visually better, faster and stronger than the original, but a bit of a narrative bore.