TRON: Legacy is a true spiritual successor to its predecessor. Anyone who loves flashy visuals, sci-fi action-adventure and stylized glowing jumpsuits is bound to enjoy this film. Those seeking complexity of plot, substantially dynamic character growth, or commentary on the human condition should lower their expectations and simply appreciate the fun ride that Legacy provides.
That said, the film has a surprisingly involved and engaging storyline when compared to its 1980s predecessor. While the tale of a rebellious son seeking reconciliation with his estranged father through fantastic circumstances is not particularly innovative or unpredictable, it does provide opportunities for emotional poignancy that keep the tone from becoming stale. The fact that a coherent plot and several emotional moments exist is more of a finishing touch on a film that’s true purpose is to be a fanciful exploration of a magical digital world.
Fans of the original TRON will be pleased with Legacy’s adherence to the details and visuals of its predecessor. For those who are not familiar with the premise, Legacy and TRON both explore the world within the computer. Within this world, programs all look like human beings in glowing jumpsuits, data travels via spaceships and video “games” are played out by programs in gladiatorial arenas. Games, places, characters and vehicles from the first film reappear in the second. Even a few of the iconic lines such as the memorable arc words “end of line” appear in unexpected places.
Jeff Bridges reprises his role as programmer Kevin Flynn alongside Bruce Boxleitner, who reprises his roles as the titular Tron. Newcomer Garrett Hedlund plays Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn, who is joined by the program Quorra, played by Olivia Wilde. Unfortunately, Tron’s role is sidelined in favor of the other characters, making the title of the movie largely irrelevant.
Legacy’s greatest strength comes in its construction of this fictional world. It depicts a place entirely different from reality, yet one that is believable on its own terms. A strong visual aesthetic binds the costumes, vehicles and architecture, establishing consistency and satisfying the imagination of what it might be like to visit the world within computers. Everything is accented with glowing lines, and blue and black dominate the landscape and outfits. All the ships and buildings look like they were built out of a combination of light and basic geometric shapes. While Legacy’s interpretation of the computer with humanoid “programs” and flying spaceships may seem fanciful, the result is beautiful and intriguing.
In addition to the compelling fantasy world, Legacy is full of exciting action sequences set to memorable music. Several fun ideas from the original Legacy have been re-imagined with the full visual integrity they deserve. There are also several new innovations that take advantage of the capabilities of CGI, from multiplanar light cycles to flying light jets. Daft Punk’s underlying synth beats provide extra energy to every fight and chase, underlying the film with a constant surreal rhythm that seems oddly appropriate to the setting. Daft Punk themselves cameo in the film in their normal attire and they blend right in with their extraordinary surroundings.
Ultimately, Legacy falls short when it comes to depth of story or characterization, but the film serves different goals. The plot and characters serve as tools to propel an adventure through a fantastical other world. The journey is exciting and visually striking, delivering two hours of stunning eye candy. At the end, Legacy does not have any important morals or messages, but the adventure along the way is thoroughly enjoyable.