Tron (1982), a recap (part 4 of 6)

Previously on Tron: Flynn discovered that he’d arrived at a place that is, essentially, Ready Player One before the Ernest Cline book (or the subsequent Spielberg film). He finally met the movie’s title character who, along with another program, helped Flynn kick some ass playing video games where you only get one try.

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Flynn, Tron, and Ram escape the game grid in their lightcycles, which lose their trails as they make their way through a crack in the wall. It’s a good thing, too, as our heroes would’ve instantly smashed each other up, making this a very short movie.

As our heroes haul ass as far from Sark as they can, Flynn expresses regret about creating all those programs with tanks, such as the one Clu was driving earlier. Sure enough, tanks seem to emerge from the walls and began chasing our trio. The gunner in the lead tank fires but misses, which makes him curse (don’t let this guy play Donkey Kong if he’s getting this pissed off at missing one measly shot).

The cycles scramble and head in another direction. The pursuing tank stops at the edge of another cliff (if there’s one thing this world has plenty of, it’s cliffs), and in the grand tradition of police cars in wacky comedies, the following tank comes too close to the first, knocking it over the cliff where it literally goes boom. The driver of the other tank reports that they’ve lost one of their number, but doesn’t mention that it was because he himself fucked up.

The chase goes on a bit longer until the three cycles find refuge and stop. The cycles disappear, leaving our heroes standing erect again, with the sticks they grabbed vanishing. I don’t know if the drivers did this themselves or if the cycles did, but after Flynn remarks at how playing a video game in this manner is harder than in his arcade, wee see that our heroes have arrived at some sort of fancy cavern. Looking at this place, there doesn’t seem to be any room for the cycles to maneuver, so I’m guessing Flynn, Tron, and Ram decided to park here.

Elsewhere, Sark is bitching as the search for the trio continues. He says to his lieutenant, “I’ll be lucky if the MCP doesn’t blast me into a dead zone!” I don’t know what the hell Sark means by this. I would call this name-dropping, but the Cronenberg film of the same name was still a year away. So I guess he read the 1979 book it was adapted from.

In the cavern, Tron leads Flynn and Ram up a hill. Once they’re at the top, they see a tower, which Tron identifies as an Input-Output, or I/O Tower. Flynn asks when they’ll take on the MCP, prompting Ram to chuckle and say that the three of them have no chance against the MCP and Sark’s army. Tron states that the next step in stopping the MCP is to get to the tower so he can contact Alan.

Our heroes climb down and see what looks like a lake. Tron takes a drink, which causes his armor to glow. Flynn and Ram quickly follow suit, happy at the chance to regenerate (after all, Mario already ate all the mushrooms that turn you into a giant and the flowers that give you the ability to throw fireballs).

As Sark’s troops continue searching, Tron (I guess) feels a disturbance in the Force. When Flynn and Ram ask what’s up, Tron simply answers, “Alan One.” I guess this refers to Alan, and I’ll actually return to this. Tron then announces he’s ready to head out. Flynn and Ram follow after a few more gulps.

The next shot finds our trio in the cycles again, with Tron leading the way. I guess they can just wish up those sticks whenever they want to go for a drive. Hey, George Jetson had a car that could fit into his briefcase, so why not?

Alas, Sark’s tanks turn up not far behind them. The first tank takes aim at Tron, although the shot instead takes out Flynn and Ram. Tron quickly outruns the subsequent shots, although he’s clearly pissed off when it seems that Flynn and Ram have been destroyed. But among the wreckage, Flynn awakens and drags the unconscious Ram away from the debris before the tanks comb through it and report back to Sark that both men are dead.

Sark orders his men to keep after Tron, while Flynn carries Ram until they reach a pile of debris. He finds a place roomy enough to set Ram down before lying down himself and taking a nap. Not that this matters, but it’s unclear how long Flynn’s nap was, as he’s awakened when he rolls over and hits a button that causes the machinery he and Ram are inside of to suddenly light up. Flynn gets to his feet, while Ram is astonished at how Flynn is apparently bringing this dead machine to life. The pieces around them form into a nearly complete Recognizer, and Ram is further astonished when Flynn notices the controls of the vehicle and instantly sets the Recognizer into motion.

But Flynn stops the Recognizer when the weakening Ram calls him over. They hold hands for a brief time, which prompted my wife to ask if they were going to kiss (not that such an act would’ve been objectionable, just out of place in this instance). Ram is fading fast and asks Flynn if he’s really a user. Flynn nods, prompting Ram to smile, presumably thinking that there’s hope in their situation. Flynn nods again when Ram asks him to help Tron. Ram’s eyes close and he slowly disintegrates as Flynn sadly looks on.

Elsewhere, Tron is continuing his journey on foot. He realizes that he still has a ways to go before he reaches the tower, but his focus changes to Sark’s ship, which Tron notes is nearby. Flynn is also headed toward the tower, but is having trouble with the Recognizer, as it only seems to be able to go in a straight line.

Inside Sark’s ship, we see another vessel being created. This ends up somewhat resembling the ones used by the respective villains in Star Trek: Insurrection and Attack of the Clones. Thankfully, we’re seeing this type of ship in a good movie this time.

Inside the control room overseeing this ship, a female program (also played by Cindy Morgan) informs a guard of its status. As she walks off, Tron snatches her from behind a corner and identifies her as Yori. After she simply repeats what she just told the guard, Tron puts some kind of magic touch on her, which makes her recognize and subsequently embrace him. Yes, these two are sweethearts, like their flesh and blood doppelgangers. Some may roll their eyes at this, but honestly, why not? If the Replicants in Blade Runner can be romantic with each other, why not the residents of this place?

Tron asks Yori where they can go to plan their strategy, and she quickly leads them out of the control room.

Back to Flynn, who suddenly realizes that he’s not alone in the Recognizer. It turns out that Clu’s Bit from earlier has been tagging along, and Flynn recognizes it by its limited vocabulary. He also just shrugs his shoulders when the Bit says Flynn is his program. This actually makes sense, as the program Bit was with earlier in the film looked just like Flynn.

Tron and Yori are continuing their trek on foot, encountering bizarre looking programs on the way. Flynn, on the other hand, is still having trouble with the Recognizer. But the damn thing starts really acting up, even taking out a bridge, dooming the tank that was crossing it. It soon goes down, yep, another cliff. Flynn pushes every button he can but nothing is helping, and the Bit constantly saying “No” is no doubt adding to his frustration. Eventually, the Recognizer, despite Flynn’s efforts, takes itself apart a piece at a time, until the top section containing the control center that Flynn and Bit are currently in just crashes, tossing Flynn out. Bit gets the hell out of there again (thanks for sticking around, twerp).

Flynn is a bit dizzy, but assures the unfazed crowd around him that he’s fine. I guess the people here must be on painkillers or something, because they don’t seemed to have noticed a massive vehicle crash in their immediate facility. Flynn even states that there are some live ones in this area before taking notice of what I’m guessing is a call girl program (hey, Daryl Hannah’s Replicant was referred to as a “pleasure model”, too).

But Flynn doesn’t let the sight of her stop him from continuing on. He reaches the tower, but can’t find Tron. Suddenly, Flynn hears the sound of approaching footsteps, prompting him to hide. The footsteps’ owners turn out to be Sark and his posse. Flynn is watching from above and leaps down to take out the slacker who’s lagging behind the others. After punching him out, Flynn grabs him to presumably get info out of him. But this physical contact causes Flynn’s armor to turn red. Understandably, this freaks him out a bit and prompts him to move away from the guy, who promptly disintegrates. Flynn darts off after muttering, “I don’t believe this!” You and me both, pal.

Next up: We’ll see if Tron and Yori reach the I/O Tower, and if Flynn gets his blue mojo back.

Rob Kirchgassner

Rob is a blogger, critic, and author of suspense novels, including the new thriller Past the Breaking Point, available now from Amazon.

Multi-Part Article: Tron, a recap

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  • tanks comb through it and report back to Sark that both men are dead.

    It must suck having to confirm a kill in a world where corpses routinely vanish.