Solo: A Star Wars Story film review – Alden Ehrenreich anchors feel-good origin tale
In contrast to the uproar that greeted Rian Johnson-directed The Last Jedi, this latest film from the Star Wars universe is sure to satisfy fans, with Ehrenreich injecting the right amount of arrogance and street smarts into the character
The second spin-off film in the Star Wars universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story is an origin story that takes a big risk. Can you really have a Han Solo film without the original Solo, Harrison Ford? It seems you can.
Alden Ehrenreich, who was so good as the cowboy film star in the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! , does an admirable job playing the space pirate in his younger days. Seasoning his performance with the right amount of arrogance and street smarts, Ehrenreich is an engaging presence in the midst of this rollercoaster-with-the-handbrake-off adventure.
Director Ron Howard, who took over mid-production from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, is Hollywood’s ultimate safe pair of hands, and he delivers on the script by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan.
Lawrence is considered Star Wars royalty, after penning The Empire Strikes Back. As a result, it’s no surprise that he understands the right beats to hit – from Han meeting his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), to his first encounter with smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his trusty ship, the Millennium Falcon.
The story really gets under way when Han teams up with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a rogue mentor who tells him to “trust no one”. Along with Beckett’s partner Val (Thandie Newton) and the four-armed Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau), they plot to steal some precious “hyperfuel” in a daring raid that fails, putting them on the wrong side of Beckett’s ruthless paymaster Dryden (Paul Bettany).
Like a heist film crossed with a western, Solo is also a love story, with Han reconnecting with old flame Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). He’s more optimistic here, too – “I have a really good feeling about this”, Han says, in a twist on the much-used “bad feeling” line heard in the original Star Wars films.
This isn’t a radical reinvention of the Han character that will leave fans appalled, in the way some protested about Rian Johnson’s recent The Last Jedi . It’s a feel-good take on the saga’s flyboy – and as such the film is immensely satisfying.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on May 24
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