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Flynn (Jeff Bridges) could be one of the top programmers (or users, as
they are called in this film) of the country, and head of the leading
software company, but Dillinger (David Warner) has stolen his best
programs (videogames, actually), has risen in the ranks of the company in
no time, is now head of the company ... and he's seen to it that Flynn got
fired. Since then, Flynn tries to hack his way back into the company's
Master Control Program (MCP) to find evidence against Dillinger, but
thanks to Dillinger, the MCP has taken on a life of its own, and has the
intention of, through computer interfaces, one day rule the world - which
is much more than even Dillinger originally had in mind.
With the help
of his friends and fellow users Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Laura (Cindy
Morgan), Flynn gets into the company's office building and tries to enter
the MCP pretty much from the inside, but the MCP is so desperate not to
let Flynn know too much that it scans him into the computer and thus into
its datasphere - I mean totally scans him in.
The inside of the computer
network the MCP controls is nothing like you'd imagine it to be, it's
actually a big, dark, maze-like world all of its own where all the
computer programs are actually living in as actual persons. And the MCP
forces the programs it no longer likes to participate in gladiator-like
games based on the videogames in gaming acardes, only the programs don't
control the games from the outside but are the actual protagonists of the
games, which are supposed to end deadly.
Flynn is mistaken for a problem
program and forced to fight in the games, but having been the best gamer
in the real world, it's not problem for it to win game after game in the
virtual world. He soon makies two friends, Ram (Dan Shor), an insurance
program that dared to ask too much questions, and Tron (Bruce Boxleitner
again), a program incidently written by Alan that was supposed to be the
MCP's watchdog but has now become its prisoner.
During one of the games,
in which Flynn, Tron and Ram are pitted againstfighters of the MCP, our
three heroes don't only manage to win but also escape the game grid on
light cycles and make it into the MCP's very system, always pursued by
tanks and weird flying machines. Eventually, Ram dies and Flynn and Tron
are seperated, and while Flynn tries to make it to the heart of the MCP on
his own, Tron, who doesn't even know that Flynn is still alive, hooks up
with his girlfriend, program Yori (Cindy Morgan again), and the two get a
data disk which Tron is supposed to throw right into the heart of the MCP
to shut it down.
Eventually, Tron and Flynn team up again, and it's
thanks to Flynn's ingenuity that Tron makes it to the heart of the MCP,
and when the MCP's defenses seem to be insurmountable, Flynn jumps right
into the center of the MCP to distract it while Tron is able to get a good
shot at the system's heart and shuts it down.
... and as a result, Flynn
is teleported back into the real world, where he finds the evidence
against Dillinger right on his printer ... and before you know it, he has
taken over Dillingers job.
As you might be able to judge from
my synopsis, Tron has absolutely nothing to do with the inner
workings of a computer, it's rather a fairy-tale set in a weird world
nobody knew too much about (remember, in 1982, PCs let alone the internet
in every home were still a thing that sounded like science fiction at
best) ... and if you can accept that the film is nothing more than just
that, pure fantasy, it totally works. Much of the fascination of Tron
comes of course from its computer effects that were trailblazing in 1982,
but of course seem outdated by now - and yet timeless, because they were
supposed to create an artificial and often almost surreal world and within
all their limitations did just that, and in the process created some
iconic images of the early computer age.
Now granted, next to all the
special effects, the film's story falls relatively flat, but Tron
is the one film where this doesn't matter terribly much. Recommended,