Review of 'Tron'

tron.jpg Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a computer hacker dismissed from his position at Encom whose president Ed Dillinger (David Warner) stole the ideas for several of his video games. Enron employees including Flynn's friends Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan) are also concerned of the power of Dillingers “Master Control Program” (MCP) has over their programs. The three of them hatch a plan to break into Encom and find the proof they need that Flynn was the true author of the games. As he attempts to hack into the system Flynn is digitised into the vivid MCP world and is forced, along with the Bradley's “Tron” program to fight in gladiatorial games. Will they be able to escape and destroy the evil MCP?

For anyone with a computer background or perhaps anyone who has been around for the past twenty years the plot of this film is completely bonkers using terminology and technology in completely ridiculous ways (even for the time when the film was made). Computer programs fighting it out while under the control of a evil master control program (a thinly disguised historical allegory of IBM and their mainframes repressing individuality)? The literalness of it makes absolutely no sense but, having said that, it makes for a mildly entertaining action flick with some incredibly vivid visuals. Having seen the film it is hard to forget the clean neon colours of the computer world and the equally neon lines of the circuits enveloping the characters costumes. The computer graphics are now woefully outdated but it certainly has a memorable look to it with only the dark inhuman look of the faces that jars the reality.

This is a Disney film from the era of Disney films providing light entertainment and in this respect Tron is much like those other films. The story is silly and basic – good vs evil – with only the occasional suggestion of anything more (the occasional hint at passion between Lora and Tron, Bradley or Flynn). This is, after all, a PG film and even that rating is only because of a rather violent scene towards the end of the film involving electronic brains split open and spilling on the ground. It is most definitely a film of it's time in terms of content and the culture it depicts (a video arcade? When was the last time you saw one of those? I am talking about an honest-to-goodness video arcade not a posh recreation in an up-market bistro serving cocktails…).

The acting is workable but no Oscars here for anyone with their efforts most often simply devoted to reacting to the events as they unfold around them – not much actual acting required. What is interesting is to see the young Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner so early in their careers having each gone on to much bigger things. Both actors would return in their rolls for 2010's Tron: Legacy which brought the quirky story (and effects) to a modern audience.

Tron is a film I remember from my childhood so is one I will always watch with a bit of nostalgia. For a newer audience I think they will find it slow paced despite it's 90 minute run time, terminally dated, silly and with psychedelic jarring visuals that bore rather than excite. These are all true, however, say what you like, it is certainly a unique looking film.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-06-20

Directed by: Steven Lisberger

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Year: 1982

Length: 96 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction