A realistic-looking young Jeff Bridges is possibly TRON:LEGACY’s only high point.
For those who haven’t seen TRON since childhood, TRON: LEGACY might seem less like a true sequel and more like a complete reinterpretation. Long gone is the charmingly outdated animation of the 1982 original. In its place is a super slick, CG-world light years ahead of where the first film left off 28 years ago. Are we supposed to believe that the people/programs of Tron have advanced that far in under three decades? Of course not. TRON: LEGACY is less about believability and more about putting audiences in an experience so immersive that it distracts from the story’s many loopholes. The only problem is that with so many gaping flaws in the narrative it’s difficult to sit back and enjoy the ride.
A quick and inane prologue introduces us to Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Tron’s creator Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who apparently spends his days hanging out with his dog, riding a motorcycle, practicing his three facial expressions: happy, sad and confused, and generally trying hard to look cool – except for the one day a year he pulls a complex and daring prank on the company he inherited (that would be the same company that cuts him a check large enough to enjoy 364 days of sloth). These pranks typically involve breaching some intricate security codes, jumping off of buildings and racing home to his hip apartment where he enjoys his breathtaking and completely unobstructed view of the city while sipping a Coors.
Then, as if it’s just occurred to him for the first time in his life, he decides the check out the old arcade his dad owned before he mysteriously disappeared over a decade ago (there’s a ‘reason’ for this sudden decision, but it’s as ludicrous as every other plot point instigator). A few minutes after entering the arcade, Sam finds a secret passage that leads him down to a room where he enters a code into his dad’s ancient computer that activates a laser that transports him to Tron. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
The rest of the movie is too preoccupied with getting the most out of its considerable visual FX budget (one that includes a walking, talking 1982-era Jeff Bridges, no less) to make room for things like dialogue and story. Long, wordless chase scenes are broken by lines like ‘Woah, that was close!” or “I’m not sure this is such a good idea!!!” There’s a vague father/son subplot, but it’s weak and easily overpowered by the endless running around the confoundingly maze-like city of Tron as well as inexplicable distractions like Zuse (Michael Sheen), the gay, show tune-singing, cane-twirling super annoying version of David Bowie in LABRYNTH who gets almost as much screen time as the random cuts to the movie’s various forms of eye candy (i.e. babes in futuristic looking bodysuits). Even Jeff Bridges’ BIG LEBOWSKI-inspired lines (“You’re really messing with my zen, man”) get buried under the unrelenting Daft Punk soundtrack, and sadly, are no match for this oddly unbalanced, underwritten and overproduced botch-up of a movie. Save yourself $12 and rent the original.