“The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships, motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see.”
We begin in 1989 which is seven years after the original Tron film takes place. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is telling his story of adventures on the Grid to his young son, Sam. Skip ahead twenty years, Kevin has been missing since that night and Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is now an adventurous rebel type. We see him avoiding the police on his motorbike, breaking into buildings and skydiving off the Encom tower. All these skills will become useful later. After a visit from Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) friend and business partner of Kevin Flynn, Sam begins to investigate his father’s disappearance beginning at the old Flynn’s Arcade building. From there Sam finds his way on to the Grid and begins to explore the world his father created.
That sets the scene for the real world and it goes by quite quickly. What is most interesting about it is that the director (Joseph Kosinski) decided to shoot the real world in standard 2D and leave 3D for the virtual world. Unfortunately in order to stop people complaining that the first 15-20 minutes of the film are not 3D this has to be explained to the audience on a title card at the beginning. The 2D visuals still looked great to me and I can’t help but wonder whether I would have noticed that it wasn’t 3D if it hadn’t been explained in advance. It would possibly have made the transition onto the Grid even more spectacular as the audience suddenly realizes what just happened.
Garrett Hedlund is not an actor I’ve ever seen before in anything else. Here he seems solid and is certainly never so bad that it take me out of the world. Although obviously not the most famous or highest billed here he basically has the lead role, in fact there are very few scenes he is not part of. The core of the story is a son searching for information about what happened to his father. Without a strong actor playing the son it could all fall apart. That doesn’t happen here and he does a great job with all the action sequences too.
Jeff Bridges has two roles to play. He is Kevin Flynn, programmer and creator of the Grid. He is also Clu a virtual copy of Flynn created to help manage the Grid. While the 3D looks great and the Grid looks stunning, Clu is probably the biggest technical achievement in the film. Bridges plays the human Flynn at his current age but Clu is a copy of his younger self from twenty years ago. This was created using a body double along with a CG version of young Jeff Bridges’ head. Perhaps once we’re looking closer on a Bluray version you will be able to tell but up on the big screen I could not. It looked completely natural to me, which is amazing. Bridges has been in many projects over the years, with the original Tron somewhere in the middle. His calibre as an actor is not in question and this film does nothing to change that.
Olivia Wilde seems to be a rising star in Hollywood at the moment. Although TRON: Legacy is not her first time on film it is probably the highest profile so far. That may change when Cowboys & Aliens is released later this year but until then she will probably be most known to people as Dr. Remy 'Thirteen' Hadley on House. According to IMDb she currently has six films in production for release in the next couple of years along with her ongoing role on House and it is easy to see why. Here she plays Quorra who is a program not a user like the Flynns. Quorra has been helping Kevin Flynn stay hidden in the Grid and is also the first friendly program Sam meets when he is rescued from the clutches of Clu. Wilde’s performance has a slightly off feel throughout, but not in bad way. The character is not supposed to be human and there is always a machine like quality behind her voice and movements. There is no trace of Thirteen here and with the short hair you could be excused for not noticing it is the same person.
Bruce Boxleitner has to get a mention here too, as along with the real world character Alan Bradley he also plays the program Tron from which the film gets its name. Presumably it was decided at some point that having CG younger versions of both Bridges and Boxleitner would be too expensive and so, other than in a brief flashback, the actual Tron character does not appear much in the film. However it is left very open that should there be a Tron 3 in the future then the character will be back. For this film Boxleitner is mainly here to play Alan Bradley and set Sam Flynn off on his quest to find his father.
The story at its core is of a son searching for his father and their reconciliation. However there are other sub-plots dealing with topics like control and perfection. Overall though it is simply an adventure, one that is fun and exciting. You’ve got everything from fast paced battles (on foot and in vehicles) all the way to grand speeches about destiny, with a few amusing moments in between. There is sorrow and sacrifice but there is also hope.
In addition to the great visual effects work I must also talk about the fantastic score. Daft Punk have combine there usual electronic style with a full orchestra and produced something exceptional. It fits perfectly with the world of the Grid. I don’t know whose idea it was to bring them on board, but it was a good idea.
It should be obvious by now that I enjoyed this film a lot. The question now is, would you? The answer to that is going to depend on a few things, such as have you seen and enjoyed the original Tron film? Or do you have an interest in computers or virtual worlds? If you answered ‘no’ to those questions you’ll probably get less out of it than I did, but it should still be enjoyable on some levels. If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions you’ve probably already seen it anyway!