(out of 5)
A mere twenty-eight years after the incomprehensible original was made, a sequel has come along to compound the confusion and reassure you that, yes, they really can make cool films that are not about anything. Seven years after the events of the first film, Jeff Bridges went missing and left behind his son to take over his giant software corporation. In the present day, the boy is now grown up (and played by Garrett Hedlund) and unwilling to follow in his father’s footsteps, instead focusing on racing his motorcycle through the streets and getting thrown in jail over and over again. When a mysterious message emanates from the old arcade where his father used to work (via pager, hilariously enough), Hedlund follows the signal and accidentally gets himself zapped into the “grid” of TRON, a video game where you play to survive. When you’re a program that simply dissolves into shards of crystal, this isn’t so scary, but when you’re an actual user who has been zapped into the game (via independently motivated, technologically ill-explained laser beam), the idea of failure becomes that much more dire. The evil KLU, the program created by Bridges to represent him ever so many years ago (and played creepily by the actor with computer graphically-acquired youth) has entrapped the real human father in the game and now our hero must save him. For the most part it is supremely illogical nonsense, peppered with silly technical language and weak plot causality that is simply an excuse for violence and speed…but such violence and speed! The world inside the game is gorgeously designed, somewhere between anime cyberpunk and the kind of train station that Zaha Hadid would create, and the film is endlessly pleasurable to look at and listen to (thanks to a terrific soundtrack by Daft Punk). There is also the hilarity of Michael Sheen as a Ziggy Stardust-inspired turnkey and the return of Bruce Boxleitner. The ridiculous writing will probably be unforgivable on the small screen, so try and get to it in a theatre if you can, its sensory pleasures are unforgettably intense when they envelope you completely.
Walt Disney Pictures, Sean Bailey Productions, LivePlanet, Prana Studios
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Cinematography by Claudio Miranda
Production Design by Darren Gilford
Costume Design by Michael Wilkinson
Film Editing by James Haygood