Tron Legacy: A Reflection of a Digital Lifestyle

7 Jul

Originally posted Feb 2, 2011
on Linear Reflections the Review website by Ed Sum.

Updated July 7th, 2013

Tron Legacy new Imax Poster

The one lasting influence the movie TRON placed upon the world of pop culture is its neon stamp. The CGI was cool and who did not want to play glow-in-the-dark Frisbee? Tron Legacy lives up to everything the first film defined and goes even further.

Original director/writer Steven Lisberger tapped into the same mythos that embraced a Star Wars generation. Instead of a lightsaber, there is an identity disc. There’s no doubt of some copycat moments, and this film is simply tapping into what audiences are already familiar with. In this film, the relationship between two individuals, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) and his father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), is explored. The senior has disappeared off the face of the earth and when a page arrives on Alan Bradley’s (Bruce Boxleitner) cell phone, that is when Sam’s world gets turned around.

In the digital domain both Flynns come through as arrogant, and what happens next is an attempt to look at the consequences of playing God. The senior believed he could create a perfect system, and in his arrogance he got more than he bargained for. He did not realize what he opened up is just a Pandora’s box.

There is an exceptional tale to be found in this film as long as audiences look beyond what’s being visually said. To have director Joseph Kosinski and several writers try to instill Lisberger’s vision almost worked, but what they really needed to settle on was one central idea rather than mixing concepts around.

Someone in the production team must have echoed Dillenger’s anarchist sentimentality from the first film, since it was difficult for the team to deal with the spiritual message Lisberger wanted. He is producing this time and while he may have insisted on preserving his vision, everyone else focused on wowing crowds with the visual effects. They are catering to moviegoers who want eye candy over religious fanaticism.

Sadly, like the first movie, this film’s spiritual message is lost in the shuffle. Not many movie goers may have taken the line Dr. Walter Gibbs said to heart: “You know, you can remove men like Alan and me from the system, but we helped create it. And our spirit remains in every program we design for this computer.”


In Legacy, not everyone will understand the Buddhist nature of the senior Flynn. Jeff Bridges brilliantly succeeds in fooling many people to the older Flynn’s purpose. And the imperfect CGI in creating the younger looking Flynn actually works in favour of showing that he’s a simulacrum rather than a fully realized human, flaws and all.

The future of this franchise really has to be told in graphic novel or television format where the story matters more than the military games being played out. Thankfully, TRON Uprising fills this gap by looking at how CLU (the secret antagonist of this series) slowly took over Argon city. Instead of an old protector, Beck is slated to become the next protector of the ‘Unimatrix,’ He will become the next TRON.

The character of TRON did come first and like the first film, the questions asked back then are still relevant now. Legacy attempts to answer what is creation, but if one doesn’t even get it after leaving the grid, perhaps a revisit to Oz is needed.

If you get it, click your heels three times and we can all go home.

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