Tron, back in 1982 at the age of 10, was a film for me which changed my life. Not only was I at an impressionable age, although I can still be impressed at 38, but a fascination with computers and a love of the look of the film just made me want to jump into the cinema screen.
This was so much so, that when there was a competition held throughout the schools in the country to win a prize by summarising the movie in 100 sentences I got to work. For the life of me, though, to this day I can’t remember or work out why I never actually entered the final draft into the competition, although the fact the prize was for the school and I’d get nothing personally was probably the main reason. Also, when time came to make that year’s Xmas want list of things which I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting, I wrote on it, “One of those computers that made Tron”. Well, it’s the only time of the year you get to make such a list…
Talking of not having a hope in hell of getting something, there clearly wasn’t much of a chance of getting a decent sequel given that they’d waited so long to make it and it would’ve been nice to get a plot that made sense.
As we begin, in 1989, we see a clean-shaven Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, above) talking to his young son, Sam, about how they’re going to go over to the arcade in the morning, only… we learn later, in the present day, that he completely disappeared. At that point we’re introduced to the current Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund, below), hacking into the servers of Encom – the company of which his father was once the head – so he can give away their latest software for free instead of making them pay for it, and doing so just at the precise moment they’re about to give a live, worldwide press conference about it. Clearly, this particular scene was a dig at multi-national companies like Apple and Microsoft when they lable their new operating systems with a number as, when asked what’s different about the latest one being called “OS 12”, he simply replies, “It’s got a ’12’ on the box”.
Something that particularly irked me about what followed is that a fat security guard chases Sam all the way up to the roof and along a steel girder sticking out, pointlessly, out and high above the street below. It only serves the purpose for Sam to base-jump off it after their conversation, but since when would a minimum-wage security guard give a damn to the point where he’d risk his life to chase someone that far?
Anyway, for reasons that will become apparently, Sam gets the key to open up his Dad’s old arcade and has a go on the old Tron arcade game, but soon becomes more fascinated about what lies behind it – a doorway leading up to the computer that sucked his father into the ‘Grid’ all those years ago. And here’s one thing which also annoyed me – he goes in without any fancy pixel-by-pixel fanfare like Jeff Bridges did in the first one, which does make for one of the film’s many disappointments.
On arrival, he’s eventually taken to a room where four sirens – one of whom we learn is called Gem (Beau Garrett), whose name only becomes apparent because she pops up in a completely redundant scene later on – ‘dress’ him in his new outfit, give him his disc and tell him to “proceed to games”, where he indulges in 15 minutes of quick-cutting scenes of disc-throwing and light cycles, something generally undertaken by the ‘programs’, but he informs everyone loudly that he’s not a program, hence he’s quickly deduced as being a ‘user’, which sounds like it has even worse connotations, but in a PG-rated movie it’s certainly not going to mean in a drugs sense. However, this section comes across as being thrown in as if to say “Right, let’s have some fun with our new graphics here before considering whether or not to advance the plot further.”
As with the real world, Sam evades the authorities and ends up getting a ride with Quorra (Olivia Wilde, bottom-right), one of the ISOs, a new race that the programs don’t like much, who takes him to see his father, now living a white room high-up above the Grid, and which looks a bit like a set left over from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sam says he wants to get home and take his father with him, but the reply comes that while the portal is still open, it won’t last forever and they’ve got just 8 hours, in their time, to make it back. I say, “in their time”, because several hours in the Grid is equivalent to a few seconds in reality, or something like that. That explains why Kevin Flynn is now looking so old… or perhaps that’s because he’s now played by an actor who’s now 61.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this film and the final score.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.