At the risk of boasting, back when Disney and Lucasfilm announced the plot of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I sniffed out how the movie was going to play out. Sure enough, when I saw the film this week, it fulfilled my expectations to the letter. That’s the problem.
To be fair, this movie’s operating at a handicap. In The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams had the advantages of an open-ended story and a reserve of goodwill from the older characters that was handed off gracefully to the newer ones. Rogue One, which takes place just before the events of the 1977 Star Wars, only aims to fill the gap in the bookshelf. The new characters brought out for us here have to stand up on their own, and they mostly don’t. The fact that we’ve never heard of them before clues us in to their ultimate place in the overall saga. This movie is conceptually flawed from the start, although that’s far from the only issue.
Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, a small-time criminal who happens to be the daughter of the high-ranking Imperial scientist (Mads Mikkelsen) who’s designing the Death Star. When he leaks word to the Rebels about the planet-killing project, their intel chief Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) recruits Jyn to help bring her dad into the fold and inform the Rebels of the fatal design flaw that he built into the Death Star. Unfortunately, Cassian has his own secret orders that he’s hiding from the rest of his crew.