Main cast: Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus), and Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Please note that there will be major spoilers (and I do mean big ones) in this review. I could use the spoiler bar, but I’d be referencing to these spoilers so often that I may as well skip the bar and lay it all out straight. So, please quickly avert your eyes and skip reading the rest of this review if you have not watched the movie yet but intend to. You have been warned!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finally sheds light on how Princess Leia got her hands on the Death Star schematics that helped the good guys blow up that planet-killing weapon of mass destruction, but unfortunately, one has to sit through this movie to find the answer.
Well, it all begins when Galen Erso, a brilliant engineer, and his family are visited by the evil Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, and some goons. Krennic wants to forcibly impress Galen back into the Imperial Military, so that Galen can help finish the construction of the Death Star. Galen, alerted in advance of these men’s arrival, tells his wife Lyra and daughter Jyn to get to the escape route and meet Galen’s friend, Saw Gerrera (try not to roll your eyes at that name), who will take them to safety. However, Lyra decides that it is far more important to abandon her young daughter to her own devices in order to go back, point a gun at Krennic, and… just point like a screechy idiot before she is mercifully gunned down. That’s for not pulling the trigger when she has the opportunity; what a dumb cow. I’m more impressed by the fact that the Imperial Army goons manage to actually hit her with their guns, considering how bad they are in killing anything even at point blank.
Jyn witnesses her mother’s pointless death, of course, and manages to be rescued by Saw, who later abandoned her when she turns 16 because, you know, people are starting get clued in that she is Galen’s daughter and hence, it is better to abandon her to her devices in order to keep her safe. This is the second time someone decides to ditch Jyn – the first being her own mother – and I wonder why. Maybe she has bad body odor or something?
Today, she is a prisoner, charged for all sorts of crimes – ladylike, nice crimes of course like forgery and resisting arrest, because we can’t have our good guys too tainted by evil, after all. Meanwhile, Saw Gerrera has broken away from the Rebel Alliance, tired of their petty politics and inability to agree on anything or get things done, to do his own guerrilla thing. See what I mean about rolling up one’s eyes at his name? As an aside, I’d be very interested to know why and how the left-wing types have come to adopt Che Guevara as their symbol of freedom and democracy – he was a Marxist, I’d think he’d be against many of the things these pampered, privileged Hollywood people have come to embody. Anyway, back to this movie, the Rebel Alliance heads decide that maybe freeing Jye and asking her to be a go-between between them and Meh Guevara would be a good idea.
You see, Galen had recently managed to slip a holographic message to a pilot, Bodhi Rook, and Bodhi defected to seek out Meh Guevara. Meanwhile, the broody and surly Cassian Andor learns of the Death Star and this pilot, and brings the news to the Rebel Alliance- hence the plan to use Jye, as Meh Guevara refuses to grant an audience to anyone from the Rebel Alliance. Andor has his own metallic Chewbacca, the reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid K-2SO, and along the way they pick up two Chinese guys that bring blind-man kung fu and crazy Hong Kong-style gun-totting officially to the Star Wars universe because Hollywood is thirsty for Chinese money now.
My problem with this movie is that the story is awful. We are talking about Chuck Wendig-does-Stars Wars levels of awfulness – everything about the movie feels off in some way. The chemistry is absent, although this is probably because the two main leads, Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, seem to be doing their best not to look at one another in the eyes while they are reading aloud lines from a teleprompter as if they are seeing these lines for the first time. I’m also shocked by how bad Ms Jones’s acting is in this one. When Diego Luna’s character falls, possibly to his death, while trying to save her character from Krennic, the only expression on her face is a constipated “Wait, is my make-up still fine after all the mess?” grimace.
Characterization is paper thin here. The most intriguing character is Cassian, as he’s a man who has done very bad things in the name of the Rebel Alliance and the greater good, and hence he has a pretty severe case of self-loathing, but even then, his character is half-baked at best, with Mr Luna alternating between talking in a stilted manner and pouting for the money shot. I don’t know what to make of Jyn and the other characters’ reaction to her. She is a newbie to the Alliance, and for a long time, she claims not to care about the Alliance or its cause, and yet, she has the temerity to talk down to experienced and even veteran soldiers of the Alliance about how they should all rally to her cause now that she’s appointing herself the official Rebel Alliance Barbie mascot, and these people respond by agreeing with her. Why? She’s nothing to them, just the daughter of that idiot who helped to build the Death Star. Why would they want to follow her when she has zero experience in such things? But that’s what happens here, so I’m perplexed. It’s as if Jyn gets to do what she does here because GIRL POWER FEMINISM BUGGER PATRIARCHY FUCK YOU DONALD TRUMP #virtuesignalingbyfatwhiteHollywoodmen.
Not that this movie is by any way feminist, despite co-screenwriter Chris Weitz’s virtue signaling prior to the release of this movie about how this one is all about Miss Feminism using the strap-on of liberty and woman power to destroy the rear end of white extremism. Never mind that Mr Weitz, who made his first bread by co-directing the empowering “We must stop sexually objectifying women!” flick American Pie, seems to have missed the memo that, in the Star Wars universe, there are technically no “white people” as race lines don’t apply there in the same way as Earth. If Jyn is supposed to strike a blow against white extremism, however, I don’t see it here. While I probably shouldn’t assume that Cassian identifies as male, if I’m to apply here the same kind of gender and identity politics that Mr Weitz claimed to have applied to the script, he’s the one who does most of the heavy lifting in this movie while Jyn spends most of the time reminding herself to inhale and exhale. Sure, Jyn gets to press some buttons to send the schematics to the entire universe – like any good secretary could do – but she needs to be saved from evil pew-pew white extremists by Cassian. So… girl power? Maybe Cassian is a trans woman, who knows. It doesn’t matter because he, she, or it (delete where applicable) and Jyn die in the end anyway, so no sequel and no cares to give, yay.
Oh yes, everyone dies here. The movie wants to do some kind of The Dirty Dozen or The Magnificent Seven thing with the ragtag gang of Rogue One, but this is where it bungles spectacularly. For a long time, this movie sticks to the tried and true principle that the Imperial Army soldiers can’t shoot for crap even if you put the target right in front of their faces. Well, except when the script wants someone to die, and then all of a sudden their aim becomes unerring and deadly. Can the director and the scriptwriters be any more contrived here? Miss, miss, miss – what, Cardboard Ally Dude must die? – hit, hit, hit, LOL dead, back to missing everything again until the movie calls for another supposedly tragic death. And because these characters are all cardboard, I don’t feel anything when they die. I don’t even care when Jyn and Cassian pose artfully in orange light as they wait for the Slow-Motion Tsunami That Is the Embodiment of Orange, and Orange Is Trump and Trump Is Death SO FUCK YOU TRUMP to wipe them out. Because, as Mariah Carey would say, I don’t know these people.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a script that resembles something that has been repeatedly rejected by the editors of those Star Wars Expanded Universe books. Still, things won’t be so bad if the whole thing isn’t also plagued by acting that ranges from stilted-awful to cringe-inducingly wooden, lots of cheesy dialogues and unfunny one-liners, zero chemistry between the lead players, and the missed opportunity in not using the far more interesting Cassian Andor as the lead protagonist instead of that pouty, whiny, and generally useless Daddy Issues Rebel Alliance Barbie wretch. This movie is a pointless addition to the Star Wars series, and the only good thing about it is that all the annoying wretches die in the end so they will not show up to plague future movies.