It stands to reason that Disney over the years has figured out how to make good movies, even when they are blatant attempts at just making more money. As far as cash grabs go, they probably don’t come better made than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a fun thrill ride of a film that fills in a simple gap in Star Wars canon.
Rogue One tells the untold story of how the Rebellion got the plans for the Death Star. As a young girl, Jyn Erso witnesses her father (Mads Mikkelsen) being taken captive by Orson Krennic (a brilliant Ben Mendelssohn)and barely escapes. Now as an adult (Felicity Jones) she is on her way to some prison camp when she is rescued by Cassian (Diego Luna) and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). They are with the rebellion and need help locating a pilot (Riz Ahmed) who is said to have a message from someone in the empire that tells of a great weapon and how to defeat it. Forced to join in on the fight, Jyn bands together with these heroes (Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang)to perform a daring mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.
Even as I type this review, I’m unsure just how “necessary” the film was. Did I truly care about the events unfolding in the film, given that I knew how it would end? Does building an entire film around one singular detail, as exciting as the cast may be, worth it? I might not have been 100% in favor of the production happening, but for the 2 hours in the theater I was thoroughly entertained. This is mostly due to the sure hands of Gareth Edwards and a tight script written by Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll and Gary Whitta. Rogue One is a simple story (people band together to do something and we’re off!) and Edwards and company really manage to keep the movie humming along at a fast pace. This isn’t to say they forget characters (in fact, this movie might contain my favorite combination of people) but that Rogue One‘s prime directive is to go from point A (rebels discover there are secret plans) to point B (they steal them). Edwards manages to keep a sure hand on the pace, being extremely judicious with when to hold on actors or cut away. Speaking of visuals, with Greig Fraiser on hand as a DP, this movie is wonderful to look at and the action felt well-thought-out and choreographed.
The movie while visually stunning, needed a lot of heart to carry us through and with the actors being this fine, it was inevitable. Luna is one of the most underused actors of the day, but here he is put to great use as the Rebellion leader and sometimes foil to Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso. He has a commanding presence and a steadying one at the same time, helping us move through the story. Of all the actors, I believe Donnie Yen had the biggest impact on me as an audience member. it was lovely to see him kicking ass as well as the story treating his disability as valid and showing us how he has gotten to be so awesome. Top this off with Tudyk’s wonderful voice work and Rogue One was definitely sure not to fail.
So even as I sit here, wondering if this is a valid direction for the franchise to go, I can say that Rogue One is certainly worth your money for the thrills and enjoyment that a fun movie can give you.