Kevin Flynn set out to create a digital frontier. Meanwhile, Disney truly made Tron: Legacy a cinematic frontier thanks to the talents of Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) and the stellar cast and crew. I never saw the original movie, which was released in 1982– the same year Steven Spielberg introduced the world to E.T. and Disney’s legacy continued with the opening of E.P.C.O.T. in Orlando, Florida (originally E.P.C.O.T. Center). I remember seeing a poster of the original film in the background of my favorite show Chuck. The poster was cool, but I didn’t think much of it. However, I was intrigued by the short film TR2N, which gave Disney the go-ahead to develop future projects under the Tron umbrella.
Jeff Bridges was a new face to me until I saw him in Iron Man in 2008. I was amazed at the type of career, from The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, Hell or High Water, R.I.P.D., True Grit, The Giver, and more. In Tron Legacy, he reprises his role as Kevin Flynn, a dreamer, a doer, an innovator, and the creator of both his company’s business E.N.C.O.M. and the hit game Tron. In the original film, he tried to take back his company from the villainous Ed Dillenger and Sark in the digital world, narrowly escaping death.
This time around, he is a father who loves his son dearly and wants to show him how he wants to change the world and create “a digital frontier that will reshape the human condition.” That opening scene gives me chills to this day. He loves what he does, but he loves it too much. We see the painful results of what happens when you become so focused on your dreams that your real-life becomes a distant second.
Garrett Hedlund (Eragon, Four Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, Pan) shines as the legacy of Sam Flynn. He is smart beyond his years, cunning, hardened by a difficult upbringing, but full of wit. He’s endured years without his father but is driven to “sort of” carry out his legacy to keep the Flynn name alive. He gets warped into the Grid and has to survive what his father has created. It’s not hard to root for Sam as you discover how revolutionary Kevin Flynn really is. It works well if you never saw the original film, you become immersed in this updated world. You feel his anguish for the lost years of his father but respect his strength to carry on.
Olivia Wilde (The O.C., House, Cowboys vs. Aliens) plays the innocent and brave Quorra. She is of the Grid and born of the Grid, meaning she is the first of her kind. She has a whimsical yet warrior-like wonder. She is curious about simple things like what Jules Verne is like in person and what sunsets look and feel like. She plays a key part in the future of the Flynn legacy.
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5) reprises his role as Alan Bradley, best friend of Kevin and his business partner for E.N.C.O.M. Like Kevin, he survived the first go around in the Grid decades ago. Alan wins the best friend award. He takes it upon himself to care for Sam Flynn and is not silent in keeping the heart and soul of E.N.C.O.M. and Flynn’s vision alive. He tries to keep Flynn’s hard work and legacy from falling into the hands of money-grabbing executives. His role is more of a cameo, but it also sheds some light on what’s transpired in the 28 years since Grid trip 1.0.
I want to take a moment to give a special shout-out to the music by Daft Punk. I’ve listened to this score by the French duo many, many times, and it warms my heart and moves me to chills and nerd tears so much. You feel the sadness, longing, hope, courage, suspense, and peril of each moment. I love how Steven Leisberger, the creator of this world, was a pioneer in helping bring this world to life back then. It was a challenge but paved the way to ignite the spark of Pixar Animation Studios.
The Tron: Legacy universe expanded to video games, tie-in novels, graphic novels, and mini videos (a press conference featuring Alan Bradley and a short film sequel), making the story more compelling. Even a television series gave some more life to the TronVerse that deserves a watch despite being canceled after a year.
Final Thoughts and Musings
Tron: Legacy is a cinematic digital jazz treasure ten years later. I hope a sequel gets made beyond anything else. It deserves to be made. This story needs to continue.
Let’s add some fresh new frontiers to mix with the cliched but well-made remakes of Disney classics.
I love that this film has lots of blue… and the strength of a father-son story that moves you to tears. I watch the ending and the intro too many times to count. The characters being brought to life by such great actors draws you into the world. It makes you want to keep dreaming and fighting to change yourself to make a frontier in the world today.