This new film, directed by Visual Effects artist turned director Gareth Edwards, is a very satisfying action film and one of the finest additions to the Star Wars universe yet. Co-scripted by Tony Gilroy (writer of most of the Jason Bourne films) Rogue One is a gritty, serious, surprisingly dark caper film. It tells the story of group of ragged fugitives and hardened resistance fighters gathered by a desperate Rebel Alliance and given the task of somehow disrupting or stopping deployment of the Death Star, the Empire’s terrible new weapon. Along the course of this film we see this task change and evolve due to changing contingencies, and in the end this modest little spy story becomes a tremendous and consequential battle against the Empire as bold as any in the preceding films.
|The Death Star never looked so evocative.|
There is also a lot of fun stuff in Rogue One. It is set in the early days of the Empire and the film is rich with callbacks and easter eggs. Look hard enough and you will see crowd scenes filled with characters and creatures from other Star Wars movies. Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) has a part to play, as does Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) a surprisingly major character considering the actor has been dead for 22 years.
|Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones): Fugitive becomes hero.|
In any case, the main franchise storyline is about a family of highly superior, Force-empowered individuals, fighting for governmental power over an entire universe of essentially powerless citizens. Rogue One isn’t about these people at all. It’s about the people they oppress: the Rebel troops Princess Leia sent to their deaths, Luke Skywalker’s wingmen blown out of the sky, the innocents on the planets Darth Vader and his grandson Kylo Ren had a hand in destroying. Because it’s a story about ordinary people fighting for freedom from the oppression of the Empire, it is both a noble and inspiring hero’s saga, and a tale of the frailty and ambiguity of ordinary lives.