A young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) was once a petty thief who worked for Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), a Grindalid crime lord working in the slums of Corellia’s Coronet City. After a job that went wrong, Han faces the wrath of Lady Proxima and goes on the run with his girlfriend, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Unfortunately, Qi’ra and Han got separated, and in a rush to escape, Han joins the Empire as a pilot (something he’s always wanted to be). From that point on, Han Solo is born and his new life will take him on an adventure the likes of which he had never dreamt of having.
Along the way he meets Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who is the leader of his own criminal gang, much smaller than Lady Proxima’s but Solo sees an opportunity and so along with his new friend, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) they go on their next adventure which leads Solo back into familiar territory. The plan is to retrieve a large shipment of coaxium (unknown McGuffin material) from a train but with Han and Chewie being new to the crew, Beckett’s well-oiled criminal machine has a spanner in the works as things go wrong, leading Solo to answer to the man that they failed – Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
Admittedly, my expectations remained high for Solo: A Star Wars Story despite Phil Lord and Chris Miller being replace in the director’s chair by Ron Howard because I like Howard’s work as a director. However, I felt that the resulting movie may have been an altogether safer, more bankable direction, giving the audience what they’d expect rather than anything less conventional and possibly more creative and unique. Unfortunately, I was right. The backstory of Han Solo is not really a very memorable one and despite the years of speculation about how the space pirate got to be the way that he is, the result seems to be a rushed and generic depiction of a man who could be anyone if not for the Star Wars label. Ehrenreich’s performance is impressive and he shows a real talent for mimicry but the fact still remains that he is taking on a massive role which has been played by the same actor for over 40 years so even after his best efforts, the audience is still thinking about Harrison Ford. As well as being slightly generic, the script shoehorns in some references to Solo’s future life as well as showing things happening that are referred to in later movies in the franchise. Some of these are nice little nods but overall the audience gets the feeling that in this case, show don’t tell is not always the better path in storytelling.
The supporting cast are of a varying quality too, Paul Bettany puts in a suitably maniacal and overblown performance that Star Wars fans are used to from its villains but it feels like Woody Harrelson may be phoning in his performance as he counts the zeros in his paycheque, although Woody Harrelson phoning it in is still better than most actors on their best day. Thandie Newton’s Val is built up but ultimately wasted (literally) which I thought was a shame. Emilia Clarke is also there. Her character is all but defunct in this story, despite her built up part she only serves as a love interest that the audience never cares about (where’s Leia?) and the plot twist in her character only serves as a way to force (no pun intended) in a character whose appearance may confuse the majority of the audience.
However, for all the bad I must say that I found L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) to be an amusing and quite different kind of droid, one that may annoy more of the old school Star Wars fans but considering the role I found her connection to Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to be genuine, funny and warm, making the character’s end to be believable and heartfelt in Lando’s reaction. Then there is Lando himself, proclaimed to be the coolest man in the galaxy by the fans so there was only ever one man (in the character’s age range) that could have played him. Donald Glover puts in a fine performance even though his chemistry with Ehrenreich does not gel as well as it did between Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford. Fleshed out, Lando becomes a rich philanthropist, playboy and fashionista, spending his days seeking the finest that money can buy and it may seem that the picture that many fans had in their minds may be broken a little but I for one would have liked to have seen how Solo and Calrissian’s friendship could have evolved with the two respective actors. Although perhaps my eagerness came from what the script was lacking.
In the end, Solo: A Star Wars Story is not an essential watch for the fans but does give moments of excitement and delivers on the feeling of a classic Star Wars story. However, if the title wasn’t prefaced by Solo then it may have been just any old Star Wars story from any other character. Since the release of the film, Disney has pared back its planned Star Wars prequels and since The Last Jedi the fans may be finally finding franchise fatigue. Pity really, that Wicket origin story has been something I have been dreaming about for years – only kidding.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.