Han's Mercenary Beginnings - Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Star Wars movie franchise is busier than ever these days. In addition to new chapters of the saga that began in 1977, viewers now get back stories that link the second and third trilogies of Star Wars. Solo: A Star Wars Story delves into the origin of one of my favorite Star Wars characters, and the path that led him to be the renowned pilot he became. Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo, a young man caught up in the lawless behavior on his home planet, Corellia. His partner in crime and love is Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) plot an escape from the planet. In an attempt to bribe an Imperial officer with the hyperspace fuel known as coaxium, Qi'ra gets captured, while Han enlists in the Imperial Army to avoid capture. While he gets training as a pilot, he finds himself assigned to the infantry. There, he notices Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), posing as a trooper of higher rank, up to no good of his own. He offers to help Beckett with his effort, but Beckett reports him for desertion. He winds up in a detention cell, and at the mercy of the Wookiee Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han, though, knows the Wookiee languages, and hatches an escape plan with Chewbacca.
Beckett sees this and comes to their aid. Beckett then reveals his plan to steal coaxium for the criminal organization Crimson Dawn. Han and Chewbacca help, but the Cloud Riders rebel force engage them in a fight. Beckett's wife Val (Thandie Newton) and his pilot Rio Durant (Jon Favreau) die in the battle, and they lose the coaxium they stole. This angers Crimson Dawn kingpin Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), who wants to know how these forces will get their hands on that much fuel once again. It is then revealed that Qi'ra now works with Vos, and persuades him they can make amends. Vos orders Qi'ra to go with this crew, and she enlists the help of Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a smuggler who expects a cut of the profits. Han learns that some of the crew have ulterior motives as the Cloud Riders and the Empire try to intercept Lando's Millennium Falcon.
Solo: A Star Wars Story may not be as exciting or as dramatic as Rogue One, but it is a smart look at how Han Solo came to be the pilot and fighter that viewers first met in A New Hope. The script was co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, who also worked on several other entries in this series, including The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. Solo shows a young man caught up in a power struggle, and sometimes left to wonder whom he can trust. The moment has some humorous moments as well, such as the way Han got his surname and how he tried to get the upper hand on Lando during their card games. Director Ron Howard has always tended to make audience-friendly fare, and does exactly that here. Solo can be rightly criticized for not breaking new ground in the series, but it certainly is not superfluous, as some critics have stated. This is a film filled with action and a few double crosses as Han has to decide what's best for Han.
Ehrenreich, as Han, doesn't have the macho attitude of Harrison Ford, but the young actor plays Solo as he finds a spot for himself in the universe. He shows gullibility when he deals with both Beckett and Lando. Han also finds his strongest ally in Chewbacca as the two make their escape from Imperial clutches. Glover gives the best performance as Lando, a man who tends to have the upper hand on any opponent, on or off the battlefield. He may be friendly, but his closest connection in the universe seems to be with his droid navigator, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who takes risks during the mission for its success. Harrelson and Clarke provide capable support as people who teach Han lessons in their own way. Bettany provides solid support as Vos, a gang leader who sees failure as an excuse for making others expendable. Linda Hunt has a cameo as a Corellian gang leader unimpressed with Han and Qi'ra. Anthony Daniels has a cameo, but not as C3PO. Instead, he's a prisoner alongside Chewbacca. Warwick Davis also appears briefly as Weazel, reprising his role from The Phantom Menace.
Solo: A Star Wars Story shows how this man came to be a mercenary who tried to not take a side. Even partnerships are never quite as strong as he'd have hoped. Since his opponents let him live, he made the most of the opportunities that came his way. Han always knew that thinking fast would be of help, but he had to learn a few key lessons along the way.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Solo: A Star Wars Story three stars. When Han met Chewie and Lando.
Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer
© 2018 Pat Mills