There is a moment in Rogue One—you’ll know it when you see it, trust me—when your heart will either do a little leap of glee, or your shoulders will slump in despair. There’s no secret that this amounts to Episode III.5, following a band of Rebels—daughter of an Imperial engineer Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), hardened soldier Cassian (Diego Luna), blind warrior/priest Chirrut (Donnie Yen), et. al.—as they attempt to steal the schematics for the Empire’s Death Star. Those new characters get just enough back-story—including making Cassian the kind of Han Solo they’re not afraid to say Shot First—to make them functional, while also making one wish every action sequence was just Donnie Yen being a badass. But while the battles are crisply staged and beautifully shot, and there’s some great, timely material about the sacrifices required to fight tyranny—and the factions that emerge within rebellions—director Gareth Edwards and screenwriters Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy can’t resist the most distracting kind of fan service. It is the nature of the Star Wars universe that emotional response extends beyond the borders of the story actually unfolding in front of you, but the ways this one works to make sure it’s clear that yes, this is “A Star Wars Story” end up fighting with the ways in which it could have shown its own rebel spirit.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, Simon Emanuel, John Knoll and Jason McGatlin
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O'Reilly, Beau Gadsdon, Dolly Gadsdon and James Jones
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story