Solo: A Star Wars Story

Everyone has heard the story that the Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Mostly because Han Solo, the self-proclaimed greatest pilot in the galaxy, wouldn’t shut up about it. Is he really that good though, or has his story been embellished over the years before he met Luke and Obi-Wan in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second film in the Star Wars anthology series and follows a young Han as he is introduced into the smuggler’s lifestyle and prepares for the heist that would make him (in)famous across the galaxy.


After spending years on the streets struggling to just survive, a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) finally manages to bribe his way off planet and leave his past behind him. Unfortunately, he has to leave the girl he loves, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), behind as well, but he promises her that he’ll return to free her. Years pass and Han joins up with a group of smugglers led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who are out to make it rich by stealing hyperfuel for the crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Han encounters new friends in Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) over the course of their adventure as they develop into the heroes we see in the original Star Wars trilogy.


Right off the bat I’m going to say that there is no substitute for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. Like Hugh Jackman is Wolverine or Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, Harrison Ford is Han Solo. Period. That being said, Alden Ehrenreich does a decent job at playing this younger version of Han who is a little more hesitant and doesn’t quite have the same bravado as Ford. It may take a bit to warm up to him, but Ehrenreich captures many of the same mannerisms and has that level of charisma that Ford brought to the role. He wasn’t exactly convincing in the trailers for the film, but by the end of it I could see him growing up to be the Han we all know and love. The same can be said for Donald Glover’s Lando, who brings all the swagger of Billy Dee Williams along with a closet full of capes. Half of the fun of Solo is seeing these iconic characters before they became iconic.


Han and Lando were good, but it was the non-human characters I enjoyed the most. There’s the smack talking Rio Durant (Jon Favreau), the original pilot of Beckett’s gang, the hilarious L3 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lando’s droid companion who fights for equal rights for all droids, and of course Chewbacca, who is as heartwarming as he is terrifying. They’re all responsible for the majority of the laughs between all the action, which there is a lot of.


Solo: A Star Wars Story plays out more like a Fast and Furious film but with Star Wars characters. It’s entertaining to watch Han Solo pilot the Millennium Falcon but the smiles are all at the surface level because there’s not much substance to the story when you look past all the crazy space driving and blaster gunslinging. Is it really necessary we see how Han Solo did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs or is it better when everything is left to the imagination? The legend is often more impressive than the reality, and that’s most definitely the case with Solo.


The film also tends to drag on towards the end. At a lengthy 135 minutes, there were multiple points where I felt things could have been wrapped up nicely only for there to be more to the story. There’s also a cameo appearance in the film that raises unnecessary questions and feels more like a random excuse to tease further sequels than anything relevant to the plot.


I thoroughly enjoyed Solo: A Star Wars Story although I didn’t love it as much as previous Star Wars films that have come out of the Disney-owned Lucasfilm era, Rogue One included. It’s a fun ride that puts you in the driver’s seat of the Millennium Falcon, but I couldn’t help but feel like the safety mechanism was still engaged. Solo doesn’t take any risks, and that’s not how Han flies.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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