Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
In this somber sequel to the 1982 cult classic, “Tron,” Garrett Hedlund stars as Sam, son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the brilliant video game developer who, in the first film, created a secret virtual utopia called “the Grid.” At the outset of “Tron: Legacy,” Flynn disappears without a trace. Cut to 20 years later, when Sam discovers his father’s hidden workroom and inadvertently gets transported on to the Grid. There he finds his father, who is still very much alive but has become a prisoner of his own creation.
Clu, who “Tron” fans will remember as Flynn’s virtual colleague in the original movie, has gone rogue. After years of minding the Grid while Flynn tended to his human life, Clu (also played by Bridges, with all his crinkles digitally removed) has had enough. His villainy begins with an act of genocide, and now he wants to wreak havoc on the non-cyber world. Flynn has been hiding in a minimalist pad, meditating and lamenting his failed experiment, but when Sam finds him they decide to take Clu down. And so on and so forth.
Setting the story aside for a moment, “Tron: Legacy” can be a beautiful, heightened experience. The Grid is a wondrous yet menacing world of hypnotic grandeur and dark blue hues (sometimes too dark, if you’re watching in 3-D; you’ll find yourself straining to discern facial features). A lot of credit goes to Daft Punk, whose ambient soundtrack deftly sets the mood of every single frame. Rarely has a techno score aligned so perfectly with a film, achieving a somnambulant quality that resides in you long after the credits have rolled.
If you throw the anemic story into the mix, though, “Tron: Legacy” loses its luster. Amid all the visual showboating, the plot recedes to the point where you sometimes forget what the characters are even doing: Those Lightcycles sure look nifty … now, where are they going again, and why? See it for the nostalgic spectacle (these aren’t your father’s Lightcycles!), but keep your expectations in check.