December 16, 2016
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen
Director: Gareth Edwards
I made it a point not to read a single review before I went in to watch Rogue One this week. I wish you would do the same and mute my voice right about now.
I’m only joking. I’m not going to tell you anything that could be a spoiler.
What I will tell you is this. Die hard fans will be happy to note that Rogue One – which owes its premise to a single line from the opening crawl of the original 1977Star Wars – is a rip-roaring, do-or-die adventure in the best tradition of the space-age saga. In this film, directed by Gareth Edwards, a band of Rebel spies led by Felicity Jones’ character Jyn Erso, conspires to steal the plans of the Death Star, that devastating planet-destroying weapon invented by the evil Galactic Empire.
Jyn’s comrades on this mission include swashbuckling rebel captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), blind warrior monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), renegade pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), and a droid named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) who gets the film’s best lines.
Rogue One often feels like a gritty war movie, or a Western in the tradition of The Magnificent Seven. The group’s dynamic – how they unite, bond, and head into action – forms the bulk of the story, and the fact that most of the characters are new and unfamiliar to us brings a fresh perspective to the Star Wars universe.
We get the excellent Ben Mendelsohn as the villain of the piece, Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research, although, as you probably know by now, a number of eerily familiar faces also appear in unbilled cameos.
That’s about all I can tell you as far as plot and characters go without spoiling the fun, which by the way, there is plenty of. But the action-packed thrills are balanced by more thoughtful moments and a big beating heart at the center.
Ultimately, and like the rest of the Star Wars films, its success is directly proportionate to how invested you are in its characters. Felicity Jones is a compelling heroine, and it’s hard not to root for the fighter monk. Rogue One links nicely to A New Hope, and climaxes in an extended battle sequence that is every bit as wrenching as Saving Private Ryan.
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Rogue One. The Force is strong with this one. A very respectable Star Wars story.
(This review first aired on CNN News18)