That fake look of a lot of 3D fits the cyberterrain of the totalitarian realm in this sequel to “TRON.” The exceptional computer graphics do not eclipse the quantum up-bump seen in the 2D original from 1982, although its visual adventurism is upheld here, coded with traces of Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism. Except for framing scenes shot in overcast British Columbia, “TRON: Legacy” is set in an endless nightscape as dark as “Dark City” and “Blade Runner.” All that’s insubstantial melts into something or nothing with 3D seamlessness. Check out the sparkly detritus marking every death. “TRON ” ended with genius programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) recovering mastery of his corporate empire built on video gaming after he wrested control from power-mad meta-program named Master Control. Now his 27-year-old son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) finds his long-missing dad has spent the last twenty years in the grid he originally generated. Kevin cloned himself to outsource building a “perfect system.” Turns out that perfection, as implemented by a post-human program, is more like the late 18th century Terror of French philosophes. Sam enounters his dad in internal exile from his own clone. Barefoot in a white robe, Kevin meditates cross-legged amidst upward dribbling strings of bubbles. His companion is Quorra (Olivia Wilde), the last member of a transcendental race of programs targeted for “genocide” on the grid for their “imperfection.” The syllabus of allusions includes Plato’s “Republic,” Roman gladiators and Christian martyrs, colonial insurrectionists and tyrannicidal liberators, and digi-imperialists. “Change the world” is the expression repeated most often in the screenplay by Eddy Kitsis & Adam Horowitz. There’s a retro synth-riffing score by music duo Daft Punk. Joseph Kosinski directs this eye-ride. With Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen. 126m. (Bill Stamets)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.