SKY TV is periodically showing a terrific sci fi treat at the moment – the sequel to Tron, the film Tron: Legacy. When Blade Runner first came out, it was universally panned by critics and audiences alike. (I loved it.) It then became a cult hit, and later the global success it is now. When Tron: Legacy came out in 2010, it received a few good reviews, but director Joseph Kosinski did not receive the plaudits he deserved.
The main criticism was that the human element was lost in the dazzling visuals. I disagree. So powerful is Jeff Bridges’ performance, that it balances the unforgettable techno-fireworks. The film went on to make over $400M at the box office.
The story is gripping. Innovative software designer Kevin Flynn (Bridges) has disappeared and his son Sam, unintentionally transports himself into the Grid, a virtual world inside the computer, where his father has been trapped for the past 25 years. After much work, Flynn discovered a new series of sentient “isomorphic algorithms” (ISOs), self-produced Programs that spontaneously evolved in the system, which carried the potential to unlock mysteries in science, religion, and medicine. You have to concentrate to follow the twists of a plot that include a clone of Kevin Flynn, the beautiful Quorra, (who is the last remaining ISO) and Michael Sheen, playing Zuse, his stock in trade, another duplicitous character.
Jonathan Crocker, one of the few reviewers who appreciated this film from the start, wrote: “Upgraded in breathtaking style by Kosinski’s team, this stormy, apocalyptic city is a fearful, magnificent world of dark space, reflective surface and searing light. It’s stunning, seductive and uniquely Tron. Curiously, unavoidable echoes of Blade Runner seem to lie everywhere: otherworldly women, elevators to the heavens, charred skies; even one character’s haircut is pure Rutger Hauer.
Not that we’re left much time to stare. For the first 20 minutes on The Grid, Legacy’s velocity is thrilling: Sam (Jeff Bridges’ son in the film) is abducted, suited in neon-ribbed body armour, loaded into a gladiatorial stadium and hurled into a disc fight.
Crocker concluded: “Leaving behind mesmerising liquid ribbons of light as they surge around a multi-level arena, the cycles are beyond cool. What’s more, the human actors all exist seamlessly in this CG environment. This is an architect’s mind at work – Kosinski’s background – and he proves himself a highly imaginative level designer. Meanwhile, Daft Punk’s score paints its own sombre, synthy soundscapes, pumping vibe and life into cold, hard surfaces of Tron’s world.”
I never take much notice of critics or film reviews. I was gripped by the story and Jeff Bridges’ powerfully moving performance. Kevin Flynn has come to realise that in his obsessive search for the perfect system, he has ignored the perfect thing right under his nose. His love for his son. He has achieved so much, but as he says to his son “I would have given it all up for one more day with you.” You will need to watch this more than once to grasp the complexities of the plot. There are some priceless quotes. Sam is telling his father about Wifi, and his father replies with a swagger “I thought of that in 1985” Kevin Flynn is into meditation. He knows how destructive negative emotions can be. He says: “The only way to win is not to play.” You remove yourself from the equation. My favourite quote in the movie? Sam has screwed up, putting them all in danger. Jeff Bridges says: “You’re messing with my Zen thing, man!”
The ISOS were the source of all wisdom and knowledge, a perfect form, that just evolved to help humankind. Is Boris Johnson the last ISO?