Jeff Bridges is undoubtedly one of the most captivating actors of our time, consistently delivering remarkable performances in every film he graces. From classics like “True Grit” to the iconic “The Big Lebowski,” his talent is unquestionable. However, it’s the groundbreaking cult classic “Tron” that Bridges held the most confidence in, and rightfully so.
Released in 1982, “Tron” saw Jeff Bridges in the role of Kevin Flynn, a programmer who becomes digitized and thrust into the world of his own video game creation. While the film garnered highly positive reviews from critics and garnered a devoted fan base, it unfortunately proved to be a financial setback for Disney, resulting in significant losses. Nevertheless, Bridges has articulated why he always believed in the film’s success and why the prospect of failure was never on the table.
Reflecting on the legacy of his film, Bridges explained, “In the early days of my career, I was always looking for scripts that were unusual. Scripts like Tron feel risky but it’s actually much harder to fail when you’re doing something so innovative. There’s nothing for the film to be compared to.”
Bridges’ insight is simple yet profound. When a movie is as groundbreaking and innovative as “Tron,” or even a cultural milestone like “Star Wars,” a certain level of success is virtually assured, especially when it comes to pioneering visual effects. At the time, “Tron” was in a category of its own, making it the pinnacle of its nascent sub-genre.
In the years since, we’ve witnessed the flip side of Bridges’ astute observation. In an era dominated by an abundance of superhero films, even those that are competently made (such as “Shazam 2” or “Black Widow”) have faced criticism for their failure to introduce fresh elements, leading to a sense of stagnation.
Then there are films like “The Matrix,” which serve as exceptions to the rule. While undoubtedly influenced by works like “Akira” and “Ghost in the Shell” — and yes, “Tron” — “The Matrix” blazed its own trail by pushing boundaries in visual and technical achievements, rendering it incomparable to earlier cinematic eras. Today, it stands as one of the finest films ever made.
Arguably, the challenge faced by sequels like “Tron Legacy” (and the forthcoming “Tron 3”) lies in the absence of innovation. Because the central premise mirrors what came before, comparisons are inevitable. While “Tron Legacy” is deserving of greater recognition (its score alone is a testament to its merits), it couldn’t attain the same level of success as its predecessor because it built upon the past rather than forging new ground.
Bridges’ wisdom on the value of innovation should resonate with major studios worldwide. In an era dominated by reboots, sequels, and franchises, originality is increasingly scarce. While financial considerations understandably drive studio decisions, the dwindling appetite for genuinely novel concepts means that films like “Tron” might be less likely to find a place in today’s cinematic landscape, and that’s a loss to be lamented.