Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Tron: Legacy (PG, 125 mins)

Stars zoom out in techno treat

Tron: Legacy - Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn
Tron: Legacy - Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn

Plot and protagonists suffer in over-stretched yarn about son’s search for father, says Damon Smith

Return to the digital realm of Steven Lisberger's cult 1982 adventure in Joseph Kosinski's high-tech reboot, which screens in 3D in most cinemas. Set in the present day, Tron: Legacy journeys back into the mainframe where battles are resolved using razor-sharp discs strapped to the characters' backs.

Video game addicts will be in their element, immersed in the frenetic action as the camera zooms around computer-generated arenas and landscapes.

However, while screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have lavished attention on the graphics, they haven't invested much programming time in either the plot or the protagonists.

Somehow, they manage to stretch a 10-minute yarn about a son's search for his errant father into more than two hours of techno-jiggery pokery.

Moreover, since the film is so reliant on visuals, you can't help but be disappointed that the 3D isn't utilised more dramatically, especially during the deadly light cycle battle.

Back in the 1980s, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) revolutionised the world with his technology corporation ENCOM. Then he disappeared, leaving behind a young son, who always clung on to the faint glimmer of hope that his old man would return.

Twenty-five years later, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is just as tech-savvy as his old man but has no interest in ENCOM, other than hacking into the mainframe to release its software updates for free, just as Kevin would have wanted.

Following a visit from old friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), Sam visits his father's rundown arcade where a misfiring laser transports him into the mainframe. In this world of programs and viruses, Sam is reunited with his father and beautiful protector, Quorra (Olivia Wilde).

Complicating matters, Kevin's digital doppelganger, Clu (Bridges again), rules the mainframe with his army, and is desperate to find a way out of the cyber universe. Kevin urges caution where Clu is concerned: “It's his game now. The only way to win is not to play,” but Sam refuses to take heed.

Tron: Legacy is frontloaded with action sequences so the second hour lacks momentum and relies on an eye-catching supporting turn from Michael Sheen to pique our interest.

Bridges channels his inner Lebowski (“Sam, you're messing with my Zen thing, man!”) as both saviour and villain while Hedlund is a bland hero, possessing neither charisma nor any screen chemistry with Wilde.

The plodding script is enlivened by the occasional wry one-liner like when Sam explains to his father about the prevalence of wireless interfacing in 21st century society. “I thought of that in '85!” chuckles Kevin.

The heady whiff of nostalgia wears off and it's a struggle to make it to the end of Kosinski's film without stifling a yawn.

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