In Defense Of: TRON: Legacy (2010)

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Now, if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the film, let’s catch you up. Legacy picks up long after the events of TRON, with Kevin Flynn’s mysterious disappearance leaving ENCOM in shady hands and his own son, Sam, in the shadow of the father he grew up believing had abandoned him. After Alan Bradley receives a mysterious page, seemingly from Flynn himself, Sam heads out to inspect his father’s lab, hidden within his old arcade, only to find himself inadvertently pulled into the Grid, a virtual space overseen by the tyrannical Clu. After learning that his father is alive and well, having been trapped within the Grid for years thanks to a betrayal on Clu’s behalf, the race begins to see if they can escape before Clu’s grand plan to lead an army into the real world can come to fruition.

At its heart, Legacy is a story about a father and the sons he has created, both real (Sam) and virtual (Clu). Both Sam and Clu seek purpose, meaning and answers from the very man they feel has betrayed them in different ways, and the contrast between the two guides the film forward in an interesting way, as Sam seeks to save his father while Clu seeks to destroy him, leading to a strong resolution in which Kevin makes the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Unfortunately, the film’s thematic weight is somewhat undermined by Sam’s relative blandness as a character; as he exists, he’s simply a vanilla-flavored vessel to carry the audience through a movie where every other character is more interesting, and had more focus been put on elevating him from a generic hero into someone with a more unique personality, the story easily could have resonated more with those who found it hollow back in 2010.

Again, though, where Sam fails to click as a character, all the other major players in the film bring a lot to the table to make up for it. Jeff Bridges, as always, is a welcome presence, and Clu – wearing a young Jeff Bridges’ face – is a pretty strong, frustrated counterpart to the “Zen thing” the older Kevin has grown to have. Clu is upstaged, though, by his right-hand man, Rinzler, the silent (for the most part) badass who steals every scene he’s in when not relegated to standing around, but even Rinzler is further upstaged by Olivia Wilde’s spunky, inquisitive, and charming Quorra, the actress making so much out of what she’s given with the simplest of wide-eyed facial expressions that make the character the most endearing part of the movie.

Of course, the biggest draw to the film is the very world in which these characters get to inhabit: The Grid. Unlike the original movie’s digital space, the Grid isn’t packed with too many colors, opting instead for a primarily blue and black look, but it’s slick nonetheless, and the general look of the environment itself still holds up, a fact that also applies to the costuming.

Director Joseph Kosinski and his team really sell the idea of the Grid as a place you’d be hard pressed not to want to visit – the pervasive madness of Clu aside – and each image we’re given, from Sam being escorted via Recognizer shortly after arriving over the city to a nightclub filled with all sorts of unique programs, only serves to help push that concept.

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