Movie Review: Tron: Legacy
The Charlotte Observer
In the 1982 adventure film “TRON,” a character loses his soul to a fantastically complex piece of machinery. In the sequel “TRON: Legacy,” that happens to the director.
Joseph Kosinski is so happy playing with expensive computers that he neglects to give this movie a heart larger than a peach pit. He creates a splendid, vast, visually overwhelming world full of million dollar effects and links it to a narrative worth 50 cents.
The story begins with Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old zillionaire who takes little interest in the corporation founded by his father two decades ago.
Dad was Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who disappeared after visiting The Grid, a cyberworld where he and a warrior named TRON battled evil. (You might think it wrong to call a film “TRON: Legacy” if TRON utters one line in the sequel and appears for four minutes. But hey, no “Pink Panther” sequels had the Pink Panther in them at all.)
Sam goes to his dad’s old warehouse, where all the machinery works perfectly after 20 years of disuse, and enters the computer himself. There he meets Clu, the sinister cyberbeing who tells him, “Luke, I am your father.”
Wait, hang on – that’s one of the “Star Wars” scenes this movie doesn’t rip off. No, Clu is a clone of Kevin that plans to wipe out “imperfect” humanity by entering the real world with his clone army. Sam must stop him with help from Quorra, an isomorphic algorithm (sorry, I have no idea what that means) and the real Kevin, who has become a barefooted philosopher and says things such as “Now you’re messin’ with my zen.”
The script by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz alternates between clunky father-son platitudes and absurd, handsome, jaw-droppingly exciting action sequences.
Bridges is too great an actor to phone in a performance, and love and regret shine out of his eyes. Even the supposedly mechanical Quorra (Olivia Wilde) has an elfin appeal. But Hedlund remains as monochromatic as the black-and-white cyberworld he inhabits; on this showing, he has one more facial expression than the Shroud of Turin.
The action scenes rock the theater visually and aurally, with all subwoofers throbbing. But they’re hampered by plain stupidity: Sam never touches a weapon without mastering it immediately, and he knows everything about land and air cybermachines as soon as he climbs aboard.
A movie’s in trouble when neither the hero nor the villain has charisma, and Clu is a dull dog. He’s a computer-generated version of Bridges, with the dead eyes and Plasticine face such technology sometimes yields, and it’s hard to exult in his downfall.
This is Kosinski’s feature debut, and his next project will reportedly be to revamp another undistinguished Disney science-fiction movie of the same era. He’ll tackle “The Black Hole,” about a crew that finds a lost ship inside one. If he’d like to buy a better script and is short on money, I can lend him $20.