Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) says to Rey (Daisy Ridley) late into the film “this is not going to go the way you think”. A fairly accurate description for this sequel to The Force Awakens, rather than mirroring a lot of tropes, written and directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi better emphasises deconstruction, and pulls this off mostly to great effect.
As an example, the film opens on a space battle between the Resistance and First Order. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), a maverick Resistance pilot and one of our protagonists, initially stalls the First Order by.. (i’ll leave you to discover). Suffice to say though, this opening battle nicely establishes how we can have fun, even as there’s a different approach.
Indeed, Luke, reluctantly paired up with Rey, seems like a regressive shell compared to who we think we might know. Depending on how you take this character interpretation, Hamill arguably gives one of his career greats. Rey has less of an obvious character arc than before, but regardless nicely moves from having potential, to achieving more of that.
Meanwhile, Finn (John Boyega), still gives comic relief although in line with the film’s ambitious approach, paired up with Rose Tico (an infectious Kelly Marie Tran), begins to gain more responsibility for himself.
And how could we not talk about, Carrie Fisher, all too sadly passing away last year?. In her last role as Leia Organa, Fisher doesn’t fail to mix in feistiness as well as integral resilience. On the other side is Organa’s evil son, Kylo Ren, Adam Driver again proving brilliant. He’s unpredictable and never not fascinating to watch, but as you might realise from the trailers, mixes in with Rey by.. (trust me, it’s better to see it all play out yourself).
Rounding up the other characters include Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) as a less impressionable but still great big bad, DJ (Benicio Del Tero), as an unpredictable, creepy scoundrel, and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) as a spiky, naturally mixed in Resistance leader.
Ultimately, The Last Jedi succeeds as an ambitious move forward in the series of Star Wars films. Especially towards the end, the pace stutters at times, and the ambition probably shows through with the two-and-a-half hour running time!, but credit’s really due where it’s due. Johnson and all went all out and this should be commended for how much it seems to get right, rather than wrong.