Felicity Jones infiltrates enemy territory in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) Ph: Jonathan Olley ©Lucasfilm LFL 2016.

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.

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The idea that the ragtag bunch of Rebels carrying out the mission can’t trust one another is a new one for Star Wars that goes disappointingly unexplored. The first half-hour or so flits dizzyingly from planet to planet before we can get our bearings on the setting or the characters. Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) doesn’t have Abrams’ sense of visual wit, and the climactic sequence with the Rebels raiding an Imperial base on a sandy beach proves to be too much for him. All the different moving parts come off as clunky where another director could have smoothed it all out. The other action sequences yield nothing memorable, and there isn’t even a cool lightsaber duel in the whole affair.

The whole thing washes over you without leaving a mark or any of these characters giving the film an emotional center, despite a fine cast: Jones’ angry, edgy turn as the heroine, Donnie Yen as a monklike blind Jedi who’s a martial-arts master, Riz Ahmed as a jittery Imperial pilot who defected to the rebels, Ben Mendelsohn and his continued skill at playing slimy mid-level bad guys. Even the reappearance of Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) doesn’t accomplish much. The studios announced that Rogue One will be a stand-alone affair without any sequels or spin-offs, which is just as well. There’s nothing here that’s worth carrying into future movies.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Starring Felicity Jones and Diego Luna. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy. Rated PG-13.


  1. The movie was incredible. It is by far better than most of the others, coming close to Empire Strikes Back. In a lot of ways I think it’s even better than that.

  2. “There’s nothing here that’s worth carrying into future movies.”

    I guess you should time travel back to 1977 and let them know they shouldn’t make the next one. Or any of them for that matter. I love when a critic feels the need to sound pretentious because they want to have a controversial view of a movie.

      • While it wasn’t a duel, Vader’s use of his lightsaber in the finale of the film is arguably one of his best moments in the whole franchise! I wasn’t sold on the film until about halfway through. The final act was magnificent! It’s a shame you were already writing your review in your head instead of enjoying it!

  3. Just another trollish review from someone who probably wasn’t alive when the original came out, which is pretty normal but maybe they should get smoeone a bit older

  4. I was so nice to “The Force Awakens” last year. And this is the thanks I get!

    [groans while falling backwards onto fainting couch while pressing back of hand against forehead]

  5. This movie isn’t going to win an Academy Award for Best Picture…let’s all be real about that.

    For Star Wars hungry fans like myself…I enjoyed the heck out of it though.

    However, Lin does make some fair points. The counter to that is to take these characters to another level and play off the dynamics of distrust would’ve taken another hour of run time and that’s not something that was likely possible.

    Hopefully the Blu-Ray and an extended version will prop this movie up even more like Batman vs. Superman did. That extra 40-50 minutes made that movie so much better than the theatrical release because it stitched the scenes together in ways the regular run time could not do.

    And for those being so vulgar about an opinion piece and a movie review at that…Calm the fuck down! I could only imagine what you’d say if she was criticizing Donald Trump. LOL!

  6. Good review, Kristian.

    I am not a big fan of Star Wars, so this movie just seemed to be lots of nostalgia thrown at the screen complete with breaks for applause from the audience. It’s curious how in such a big galaxy we keep running into the same old characters.

  7. Kristian Lin December 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm
    I was so nice to “The Force Awakens” last year. And this is the thanks I get!

    [groans while falling backwards onto fainting couch while pressing back of hand against forehead]:
    Sooo,you wrote this negative review to just to appose your niceties towards The Force Awakens?So,you sugar coated your true opinion of Force Awakens?Those two points alone not to mention this: “The other action sequences yield nothing memorable, and there isn’t even a cool lightsaber duel in the whole affair.”
    And this,”Kristian Lin December 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm
    That’s a good point. Still, I could have used one. Lightsabers are cool.” make me have a hard time taking your review seriously.Try being more honest with your writing instead of controversial…