In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Possibly the most interesting movie in the Star Wars canon.”
“Make ten men feel like a hundred.”
I’m a child of the 80s. The original Star Wars trilogy are three of the first movies I remember knowing and loving as a kid. I saw and hated the prequels, just like anyone of my generation should. And joined the same people in loving and praising the franchise’s return to form with The Force Awakens. Yet, for all of that, and despite the mostly good to great reviews for the series’ latest entry, I didn’t rush to immediately see that latest entry. But while I might have been a bad Star Wars nerd by so late to the party, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m eagerly jumping on the bandwagon and adding to the praise for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
As in all Start Wars stories, the central story is a young upstart, separated from their family, who is the key to saving the Galaxy. This time it’s Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Years ago, her father (Mads Mikkelsen as Galen) was the key architect of the Death Star. Realising the devastation his invention will cause, he has chosen imprisonment at the hands of the Empire’s Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Before giving himself up, Galen managed to hide the young Jyn, who would go on to be raised as a badass by rebellion soldier Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).
Years later, the Death Star is nearing completion and Jyn is an Imperial prison. Until she’s liberated by Alliance soldier Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Jyn is reluctantly tasked with helping Cassian find her father, who the Alliance has decided is the key to stopping the Death Star from becoming operational. Along with Cassian’s tech guy Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and reprogrammed Empire robot K-S2O (voiced by Alan Tudyk), their adventures lead their rag tag group to being filled out by the even raggier and taggier mercenary Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and blind, Jedi devotee, Baze Melbus (Wen Jiang).
I read and heard a lot rof eviews for Rogue One that described it as a war move. Or more specifically, a Dirty Dozen style movie. I assumed that was hyperbole and that no movie in the Star Wars franchise would ever go near the kind of despair and moral conflict that is needed to offset the glory and ultimate heroics in a story like this. But Rogue One delivers on this every step of the way. And it delivers in a way that had me thinking less about The Dirty Dozen, and more about the nihilistic beauty of The Wild Bunch.
I think I was less excited about Rogue One because I was sceptical about another good a Star Wars being delivered only one year after the last good one. In my day, there had been three years between each entry in the original trilogy. Then a decade and a half or so before the prequels began to be crapped out, then another 10 a years before the redemption of The Force Awakens. With that kind of wait in between drinks, it just seemed too soon to expect anything this good.
Felicity Jones does a great job of being the centre of this story and holding everything together, but the real strength of Rogue One is the roster of characters around her. From comic relief, to brooding tough guys with hearts of gold, to despicable villains, to CGI renderings of characters from the 1977 original who look surprisingly real and tactile, it was the world of this movie that makes the fantastical seem real and worth caring about.
40 years ago, George Lucas wrote a line of dialogue about some rebel fighters and the sacrifice they made to steal the plans for the Death Star Luke Skywalker would destroy. Now, that one line of typically clunky Lucas exposition has lead to possibly the most interesting movie in the Star Wars canon. If I was skeptical about the frenetic output of upcoming Star Wars sequels and off shoots before seeing Rogue One, I’m officially excited about what’s to come after seeing a Rogue One. And if the dudes who made The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street reboots could have so much big screen fun with those dubious source materials, I’m beyond excited about what they might do with the story of a young Han Solo.