The Master Control Program is booted back up in this revamped Tron continuation that sees the return of original star Jeff Bridges (as Kevin Flynn, the brilliant computer programmer whose disappearance leads his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), to search for him in and out of the computer world.
It’s extremely surprising that it took twenty-eight years for Steven Lisberger’s Tron to get a sequel. The world that was set up in the film was one that was full of wonder, life, and plenty of flashy neon colors. It had the word “franchise” written all over it. It’s the type of movie that you would’ve thought had at least two or three sequels already released by now, but no. Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy, released in 2010, is the only sequel that was ever made in the Tron series, which is unfortunate because it is not only one of the most visually stunning movies Disney has released in the past ten years, but it is also one of the most wildly entertaining.
Just yesterday I rewatched Tron because I saw the thumbnail for the movie appear while I was scrolling through Disney+. Because I liked the movie, I figured I might as well give Legacy a rewatch too. I am extremely glad I did that because upon rewatching it today I was reminded of how much I love it. Taking everything that was amazing about the first film and making it twenty times better, Legacy is a sequel that vastly improves upon the original in nearly every way.
The light cycle races in the first film were quite cool and fun to watch. But the light cycle races in this film truly blew me away. The revving of the engines, the close swerves of other cycles nearly swerving into one another, the neon stripes they leave behind, all create for extraordinarily fun moments. Even though I have already seen this movie back when it was released in theatres ten years ago, I was still gripped at practically every turn.
All of the action sequences here are handled with an immense sense of skill by Kosinski. The disc war moments in the first film were just a little bit underwhelming. There was so much potential that was wasted with the discs in the first film, but here, the disc battles are intense and are a blast to watch. These amazing sequences are made even more fun thanks to Daft Punk’s euphoric, almost other-worldly soundtrack which is candy to the ears.
But aside from all of the fun action set pieces on display, Tron: Legacy is also just a visually stunning movie, and one of the greatest looking films Disney has released this past decade. Every shot is absolutely brimming with vibrant neon colors that are extremely pleasing to the eye and give off an amazing futuristic/dystopian vibe that will completely whisk you away to another world.
The most important aspect of any film though is a good story, and thankfully, this film has one. In the first Tron, I honestly didn’t feel that much of an emotional attachment to any of the characters or the story. The story had next to nothing in terms of stakes and I found myself wanting more quiet character moments that we just didn’t get. Here, however, there are plenty of scenes exactly like that.
Sam Flynn was an incredibly interesting protagonist to follow and by the end of the movie, I ended up liking his and Quorra’s (Olivia Wilde) characters much more than I did Kevin Flynn from the original. Speaking of Sam and Quorra, both Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde deliver extremely charismatic and emotionally resonant performances. Their dynamic on-screen was not only beautiful and sweet to watch unfold, but powerful and exciting too.
There’s really not too much to complain about when it comes to Tron: Legacy. If there are two things that I didn’t like whatsoever here, for starters, it would have to be the de-aging technology. The main villain of the film, Clu, is just an evil, younger version of Jeff Bridges and it looks atrocious. Back in 2010 though, the de-aging technology just wasn’t nearly as strong as it is now, but it still managed to get on my nerves and suck me out of some crucial moments every once in a while.
Also, there are occasionally some instances of humor that were fairly weak and pointless. On the other hand, though, there are some jokes that work quite well and reminded me of the absurd campiness that the original film brought to the table. Legacy is a much darker and emotionally strong film compared to the original and is filled with characters that are genuinely likable and you always care for their plight. It’s fascinating that this film never got a sequel because it performed remarkably well at the box office and it seems as though all these years later, it is still in high demand. We don’t know if a sequel will ever see the light of day, but I am really holding out hope because Tron 3 has the potential to be incredible, just like Legacy is.
Tron: Legacy is an absolute marvel thanks to its riveting action set pieces, gorgeous color palette, and its emotionally strong character-driven story.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date: December 17, 2010
Running Time: 125 minutes