Sometimes, patience pays off when it comes to sequels. Take today’s movie for instance. Ever since TRON came out, fans have been clamoring for a sequel but it really took off at the beginning of the century and in 2005, Disney finally decided to get serious with it. Now when I first heard about the sequel, I was really excited. I mean, TRON was so amazing in it’s special effects that I hoped the improvements in technology would make this movie just as amazing. So let’s see if all the patience paid off with today’s movie, TRON: Legacy.
The plot: In 1989, seven years after taking over Encom, Kevin Flynn is telling his son Sam about the Grid and his adventures in there. He also tells him how he worked with Tron and Clu to build a new Grid when something amazing occurred, a miracle Flynn says, though he doesn’t go into detail. Flynn leaves for work but the next day he disappears, throwing his company into chaos and causing the board to seize control of the company from Flynn’s partner, Alan Bradley. In the present day, Sam makes his way to Encom Tower one night and sneaks into the building during a late night board meeting. Inside the board meeting, Chairman Richard Mackey is touting the success of Encom to the board before mentioning their latest operating software’s upcoming release, praising it’s developer Edward Dillinger (son of Ed Dillinger), then says that Encom will be traded on Japan’s Nikkei index, resulting in Encom stocks trading worldwide 24/7. Meanwhile, Sam breaks into the server room, unintentionally tripping an alarm, and as the security searches for him, he uploads the master file for Encom’s newest operating software onto the internet before making his escape. As the board members discover what happened, Sam makes his way to the roof, revealing to the security guard that he is Sam Flynn, who happens to be the majority share holder in the company, and then does a base jump off the building but as he tries to make it to his motorcycle, he is captured by the police. After bailing himself out of jail, Sam returns to his apartment to find Alan waiting for him. After congratulating him on his annual prank, Alan tells Sam that he received a page from Flynn’s office at the arcade, even though the service had been cut off years ago, and suggests Sam go check it out, tossing him the keys to the arcade. Though he thinks it is a waste of time, Sam decides to head to the arcade and after looking around and finding nothing, he starts to leave but finds himself drawn to the old TRON video game. Deciding to play it for old times sake, Sam notices scratches on the floor and discovers a hidden room behind the console. Searching around, he finds a running computer, that had been idle for 20 years, and starts trying to access it only to accidentally activate the laser behind him, which blasts him. Not sure what just happened, Sam leaves the building only to realize that he has been transported to the Grid, just as a Recognizer approaches him and he is captured. When the Recognizer lands, one of the soldiers scans Sam and the other captured programs and Sam is sentenced to “Games”. He is taken to a chamber, where 4 Sirens remove his clothes and give him a uniform and an identity disk. Sam asks what he is supposed to do now and Gem, the head Siren, tells him to survive. Sam exits the chamber to find himself in an arena and forced to compete in disk wars with other programs, as a ship approaches and a masked figure watches from above. Sam kills 2 programs and then attempts to escape but ends up in a different arena, where he is forced to face off with the Games’ champion, Rinzler. As Sam and Rinzler fight, Rinzler gets the upper hand but before he can finish him off, Rinzler notices Sam bleeding from a cut he received and realizes that he is a User. The leader demands that Sam identify himself and when Sam says his name is Sam Flynn, the leader has Sam brought to him. In the leaders chamber, the leader unmasks to reveal the face of Kevin Flynn and Sam is shocked to see his father alive but after talking with him, realizes that it is Clu, not his father. Clu decides to kill Sam in a light cycle duel, facing him in a 5 on 5 team battle, but as Clu prepares to finish off Sam, a strange car enters the arena and rescues Sam. After escaping the arena, the driver unmasks to reveal a woman, who introduces herself as Quorra, who says that Clu’s forces won’t be able to follow as they are not designed to go off grid. Quorra takes Sam to a home in the mountains, where Sam is reunited with his father, who is shocked to see Sam in the Grid. As they eat, Sam and Flynn catch up briefly before Sam asks why Flynn never came home. Flynn tells him that when he first started working in the Grid, he brought over Tron, which Alan had built, and then created a new version of Clu, hoping that between the 3 of them they could build the perfect system. Then, one day, he discovered ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, which Flynn did not create but somehow appeared on their own. Flynn felt that they could help unlock some of life’s greatest mysteries but Clu saw them as an imperfection that needed to be destroyed and led a coupe against Flynn. Tron was killed trying to help Flynn escape and Flynn ended up trapped in the Grid when the portal closed, as it would only stay open for 8 hours and could only be opened from the outside world. Sam says that they should just leave now while the portal is still open but Flynn tells him that Clu wanted someone to open the portal, as he was planning something and needed a new player on the board in order to draw him out of hiding, saying that Clu needed his identity disk in order to try and leave the Grid and go to the real world. Flynn heads to bed and Sam feels frustrated that he doesn’t seem to want to try and leave and Quorra tells Sam to go find Zuse, as he helped her out during the fights and she felt he could be trusted. Sam heads to the city and is met by Gem, who takes him to the End of Line club. Back at the house, Flynn discovers that Sam is gone and decides to take Quorra and go after him. Meanwhile, Clu’s major-domo, Jarvis, tells him they found Flynn’s light cycle and traced it back to it’s origin so Clu, Jarvis, Rinzler, and 2 soldiers head to Flynn’s house only to find it empty. At the End of Line club, Gem introduces Sam to Castor, the club’s owner, who reveals that he is Zuse and seems surprised to learn that Quorra is still alive. Zuse tells Sam that he is someone that likes to play the angles, just as 4 of Clu’s soldiers drop in through the ceiling. Sam decides to join in the fight against the soldiers and Quorra appears to help him but she is injured in the fight. Suddenly, Flynn shuts the room down, allowing the resistance to defeat the soldiers and he tells Sam to grab Quorra and they go to leave but one of the soldiers manages to grab Flynn’s disk before they leave, only to be killed by Zuse, who grabs the disk for himself. Flynn chastises Sam for his actions but decides that the only thing they can do is go with Sam’s idea to make a dash for the portal so they board a solar sailer heading to the wastelands. While they are travelling, Flynn works on trying to help repair Quorra, revealing that she is the last ISO, and afterwards, he talks with Sam for a bit before heading off to meditate. Meanwhile, Clu shows up at the club and speaks with Zuse, who offers a deal to give Clu the disk in exchange for control of the city but Clu simply takes the disk and then blows up the club, killing Zuse and Gem. Back on the sailer, Quorra recovers and as they continue riding, Sam and Quorra end up bonding. Flynn sees them and smiles but his smile fades when he sees a Recognizer close by and sees the sailer pulling into a waystation that shouldn’t be there. Telling Sam and Quorra to hide, they see that Clu is using the station as a launching base for an army and realize they have to get to the portal to stop Clu. Seeing Rinzler close by, Quorra hands her disk to Flynn and then runs out to act as a distraction so Flynn and Sam can escape. When Rinzler captures Quorra, Flynn recognizes his moves and mannerism and realizes that Rinzler is Tron, who wasn’t killed but repurposed by Clu. Clu has Quorra taken to his chamber, along with Flynn’s disk, and he then speaks to his army, and Sam and Flynn realize Clu figured out how to bring programs over to the real world. Sam tells Flynn that they have to get Flynn’s disk and Quorra back and tells Flynn to get them some transport to the portal. Sam makes his way to Clu’s chamber, dealing with the guards along the way, and then grabs Flynn’s disk from where Clu had it kept. Grabbing Jarvis, Sam asks where Quorra is just as Rinzler arrives with her and Sam faces off against Rinzler, allowing Quorra to knock him off the platform. Freeing Quorra, Sam grabs a set of glider wings and jumps out of the tower with her, then races to the light jet that Flynn grabbed. As they leave, Clu enters his chamber and kills Jarvis for allowing them to take the disk, then he, Rinzler, and some of Clu’s soldiers activate their own light jets and give chase. With Quorra piloting and Sam manning the rear guns, they begin battling Clu’s soldiers and manage to kill them. When Rinzler attacks them, Flynn calls out to his old friend, causing Rinzler to fall back as his memories of Flynn reemerge, then crash into Clu in order to save Flynn. As Clu and Rinzler fall, Rinzler goes to grab his spare control stick but Clu grabs it from him and uses it while Rinzler plunges into the waters below, with his uniform reverting back to it’s original coloring. Flynn, Sam, and Quorra arrive at the portal only to find Clu waiting for them and Flynn goes to face him, apologizing for his part in their fallout. Clu attacks Flynn and when Sam goes to defend him, Flynn grabs Quorra and tells her she knows what to do. Quorra moves in front of Sam, pushing him back towards the portal while Flynn tells Clu to ignore them as he is after Flynn’s disk. Clu grabs Flynn’s disk only to discover that Flynn had switched disks with Quorra. As Clu’s ship appears, Flynn yells at Sam to take Quorra out of there and then merges with Clu, causing an explosion that destroys Clu’s ship and the portal area. Back in the real world, Sam downloads the details of the Grid onto a memory chip, which he wears around his neck, then heads out of the secret office. In the arcade, Sam sees Alan looking around and explains that he paged him there to tell him they are taking back Encom, with Sam making Alan the new chairman of the board. Outside, Sam sees Quorra by his motorcycle, who asks what they will do now, and Sam says that they will do what his father asked and change the world, then he has her get on the bike and they ride off, with Sam letting Quorra experience her first sunrise.
TRON: Legacy met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tron: Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.” While Jeff Bridges was always slated to return, none of the other characters from the original movie were written into the movie. However, public outcry from Bruce Boxleitner and fans of the original movie caused the writers to add him in and his performance was so popular, he returned to play Tron in the animated series TRON: Uprising. The movie was a box office success, earning $400 million off of a $170 million budget and a sequel was planned but has since been placed on indefinite hiatus while Disney considers rebooting the series.
After years of wait, I have to say that I enjoyed this movie but felt like it could have been better. The acting was good, with Jeff Bridges doing a great job returning as Kevin Flynn/Clu, though it felt like a little bit of The Dude had made it’s way into his portrayal of Kevin Flynn. Bruce Boxleitner was also good returning as Alan/Tron, while Gerrett Hedlund (Sam) and Olivia Wilde (Quorra) were equally good but my favorite character was Michael Sheen (Zuse), who was the most entertaining character next to Flynn himself. The story was pretty interesting and I liked how they acknowledged the time difference from the original movie to this one, such as the computer in the secret office showing the 20 year idle screen. I will agree with the critics that the movie did kind of lack some character developement, but mainly regarding Sam and Quorra, who came across as kind of bland despite their being two of the main characters. The special effects were incredible and definitely showcased the advancement in technology since the original movie. I also liked that they tried to incorporate a lot of aspects from the original movie into this, from the Recognizers, tanks, and light cycles, to aspects of Encom tower and the laser that zapped Sam. A good follow up to a cult classic and one that is worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5