Dir. Joseph Kosinski. USA. 2010.

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Tron (1982) is the typical cult film, in the fact that even though you may not have seen it in its entireity, you feel as if you have because it has been parodied and spoofed in many shows and cartoons as in 'Family Guy', coupled with the famous one-sheet poster, with its pop icon imagery of frisbees as weapons, motorbikes in a computer grid and the now brilliant casting of Jeff Bridges as a zen-like maverick of computer technology.

Bridges returns in the film as Kevin Flynn, the patriarchal creator of the world where all the action takes place as it enters the thousandth cycle of its being.  We enter the film at 1989, Flynn is sitting with his six year old son, Sean in his bedroom having to go to work late again.  Flynn never returns, presumed missing as if vanished from the face of the world; Sean (Garrett Hedlund - smouldering) grows up to become the major shareholder of the company, EnCom, which is about to enter the Japanese stock market but Sean attempts to rebel and cause a meltdown of the company using his technical ability to hack and hijack the programs.

His surrogate father and Flynn's long-time friend, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) approaches Sean after his latest hijinks saying he received a page from Flynn from a number that has been disconnected for 20 years.  Sean goes down to his fathers office at the old arcade (full of nostalgic games including the spin-off 'Tron'), after finding a hidden wall to his office and intialising the last run program, Sean is beamed into the world of Tron.

Confronted by people who capture him, the world learn he is a user/human, and so after a series of survival contests - set pieces reminiscent of gladiatorial warfare involving said frisbees and then the trademark motorcycle variant of 'Rollerball'. After these set pieces whet your appetite in glorious 3D we are then thrust into a father-son relationship film as after being hoodwinked by Clu (a computer version of Bridges), whom has taken over control of the world from Flynn, Sean finally comes face-to-face with his father in a room not too dissimilar from the end room of '2001'. This is Flynn's sanctuary in the outer regions away from the mess of Tron that he is established with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who may have answers to the future of our real world in terms of religion, science, philosophy.

They attempt to get back to the portal that Sean came through, before it close and the chance has gone.  And so the film becomes a chase film and reminiscent of those films from the original film's era 'Battle Beyond the Stars' and even the original Star Wars trilogy; a motley crew going against an ordered system to gain victory without a hint of irony in the sense of sacrifice that may be committed. 

With the help of a great scene involving Michael Sheen as Zeus, a deal maker in this world, that could make the journey easier, Clu tracks him down and the pursuit is ongoing.  Sheen pouts around the stage in his 70s Bowie persona, using his identifiable cane as a character in his own right to make him more memorable; and even the music producer Daft Punk are afforded a cameo as his personal DJ's in the 'End of the Line' club; one of those bars that will go in movie folklore such as the Mos Eisley cantina and the Milk Bar from 'A Clockwork Orange'.

Directed by debut helmer, Joseph Kosinski (an architecture major, but geek at heart) with great clarity and purpose, in the fact that he takes a lot of the action and exposition with a pinch of salt; a sense of general disbelief would be appreciated in this film.  But the film, whilst it will not win a barrow load of awards, is nevertheless good action/sci-fi cinema.  A script that is brisk and bouncy, characters that are believable helped in part by the commendable actors; Bridges brings his Dude-like persona to the party ('You're really messing with my Zen, man.'); Hedlund injects just enough vulnerability into his would-be rebel in need of a father and Wilde gives doe-eyed innocence to a role (similar to Daryl Hannah did in 'Splash' ) by the film's conclusion, as she takes a look around the world she is now a stranger to.

The promise of a sequel to this film itself the longest gestated sequel is foreboding, but necessary when you consider the possibilites of an uncredited cameo of Cillian Murphy (wearing his evil glasses) going up against all-American Hedlund on this Earth.

With so many people invested in a film that happened so long ago, the prospect of them falling flat on their collective faces could so easily have happened.  However, it must be said that the film is a triumph and a good box-office banker; thrills, spills, laughs, action, adventure and a kick-ass soundtrack from the people born to do it.

Jamie Garwood

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