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TRON: Legacy Review

TRON: Legacy

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AS TECHNICALLY astounding as it is emotionally shallow, TRON: Legacy is easier to admire than it is to like – especially if you see it in IMAX format.

A long-awaited sequel to the cult 1982 Disney vehicle, Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up is high on technical flair and occasionally dazzling set pieces, but it fails to resonate on an emotional level despite the presence of this year’s Oscar winner (for best actor) in one of the central roles.

But then the plot is driven by so much unnecessary techno babble that it’s sometimes hard to care about what’s being said.

The story focuses on 20-something rebel Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the disinterested heir to a vast computer corporation, who is struggling to overcome the bitterness he still feels at his father, Kevin’s (Jeff Bridges) sudden disappearance during his formative years.

But when he is lured to his father’s old arcade by a mysterious message, Sam finds himself plunged into a vast and dangerous computer world that may bring a reunion with his father, as well as a showdown with Clu (also Bridges), a pixel clone of his dad, who wants to escape the computer world and enter the real one.

At its core, TRON: Legacy offers the age-old tale of good versus evil as well as the loss of traditional values to progress at any cost. There’s also the importance of family thrown in for good measure.

But while some of this engages, the film never really tugs at the heart-strings as much as you feel it wants to for several reasons.

First and foremost, the script isn’t involving enough, while leading boy Hedlund is a pretty one-dimensional actor (at least on the evidence of this).

Viewers may also get the impression that Kosinski, as a first-time features director, is struggling to find the right balance between jaw-dropping spectacle and dramatic pacing.

Fortunately, however, his film does impress visually and it’s this – as much as anything – that should help TRON engage its target younger audience.

Visually, the film and the digital universe it creates is captivating – as edgy and dangerous as it is sexy and exciting. Kosinski makes good use of 3D and the decision to film over 40 minutes of the movie in IMAX format offers massive rewards for those who opt to see it this way.

Bridges, too, provides a captivating dual presence as both the older, wiser Flynn and his nemesis Clu (his youthful appearance is another thing that impresses), while Olivia Wilde offers both sizzle factor and kick-ass cool as Quorra (a character who, admittedly, feels as though she’s been modelled on The Matrix’s Trinity).

Michael Sheen also crops up in a fun but self-consciously OTT extended cameo to enliven proceedings, while Daft Punk drop an electrifying soundtrack that really helps to bombard the senses along with the visuals. Again, there’s a feeling that we may have heard some of the musical influences before (Inception, for example), but there is an element of cool in having such a pioneering dance act attached – and they don’t disappoint.

TRON: Legacy also keeps you suitably enthralled during its lavish set pieces, with killer Frisbees, death-defying bike stunts and eye-popping fighter jets all vying to top the cool stakes.

Admittedly, how much you enjoy it depends largely on how old you are (or how willing you feel to tap into that inner child), as well as how familiar you are with the likes of The Matrix. But, crucially, you don’t need to have seen the original movie to keep up with what’s going on.

The overall result is a spectacular experience that marks a technical triumph of style over substance. Like last year’s Avatar, it deserves its place at the cutting edge of new technology but lacks the all-round appeal to make it a true classic.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 126mins
UK Release Date: December 17, 2010