After defying the odds, a boastful Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) tells a worker on the planet Vandor that he has just made the infamous “Kessel Run” in 12 parsecs. The worker’s response is a look of indifference before walking away. It is the same look that many will have throughout most of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Much like the Star Wars prequel before it, Solo aims to provide a deeper understanding of a beloved character while simultaneously planting the seeds for a possible new franchise. However, just as we saw with the young life of Darth Vader, the film only succeeds in diluting everything we once loved about Han Solo in the first place.
It can be argued that the film was at a disadvantage from its inception. Fans who already worship Star Wars like a religion have already had the joy of experiencing the various facets of Han Solo over the course of four films. As a result, Solo: A Star Wars Story’s very existence meant that it was handcuffed to a future ending that many already knew. Instead of trying to forge its own path, the film treats the early years of the character like a grocery shopping list.
Meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo); Check. Proves he is the best pilot in the galaxy; Check. Meets Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover); Check. Gets his hands on the Millennium Falcon; Check.
In showing us everything the previous films told us about the character, the film eliminates any sense of mystery. This also makes the action sequences feel hollow as at no point do we ever fear for the character’s life. Worst of all, the film lacks the amount of humour needed to mask its shortcomings. One cannot help but wonder how the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) would have punched up the humour had they not been replaced by Ron Howard during filming.
What we are left with is an uneven story about Han Solo teaming up with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew to steal a shipment of hyperfuel coaxium for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), the head of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Over the course of the adventure there is a complicated relationship with Solo’s former flame Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), double crosses (which are given away in the film’s trailer), spaceships flying through tight crevices, and even social advocacy in relations to droids’ rights and Wookie slavery.
The film even throws in a gratuitous lightsaber shot for good measure, because god forbid we have a Star Wars film without one…even when the Jedi are not central to the story. Which sums up the problem with the film, at no point does Solo: A Star Wars Story feel like it is attempting to offer anything new. It dips its toes into the heist, war and romance genres, but never fully commits itself to any of them. It is merely content to regurgitate the same tropes that would bore even those living in a galaxy far, far away.