Felicity Jones is a troubled woman whose dad has played a key role in the creation of a mysterious new Empire weapon, who gets dragged into the rebellion against the Empire against her will due to this connection. Though she is initially not interested in helping the rebellion she will become instrumental to the bold move to steal the plans to said mysterious new weapon.
Rogue One is a new breed of Star Wars movie in that it doesn’t really involve any of the characters from the ongoing saga, and isn’t preceded or followed by any direct sequels or prequels. Of course it is part of the same world and there is some very nicely orchestrated character cross overs. But just tonally alone this is a completely different star wars movie to the ones in the saga. Rogue One at its heart is a war movie. People are calling it the “Empire Strikes Back of the new movies” but it’s much darker even than that. Notice that where in The Force Awakens the camera would pan away from violence, in Rogue One it does not do this. I also found it was making deliberate visual links to conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan which is a sort of political commentary that has previously been completely alien to the Star Wars franchise.
Now it must be known that I am a huge Star Wars fan anyway (I even like the bad ones) so I can’t tell you if this is a film that a non-star wars fan would enjoy or understand because that isn’t me. I got all the Easter eggs both subtle and markedly less so. And I have to say as a Star Wars fan I absolutely loved Rogue One. I’ll admit there are some pacing issues early on, but my god by the end the film had me in the palm of its hand. And at the end the film includes my absolute favourite scene from 2016 (anyone who has seen the movie will know exactly what I am talking about).
The number of articles I read before the film came out shouting at me about why I should be “worried about Rogue One” and how the reshoots could only mean bad things had me slightly wary going in, but lo and behold they were all entirely nonsensical. After seeing how badly reshoots affected Suicide Squad – an incoherent mess of a movie with whiplash inducing shifts in tone – it’s fairly clear that any reshoots Rogue One had were nowhere near as extensive or as badly handled because tonally Rogue One is consistent throughout.
As is apparently now standard in Star Wars movies the performances are superb all around (remember not so long ago the series was fronted by Hayden Christensen) Felicity Jones leads the movie and while I may have previously slated the franchise for picking a lead that looks so similar to Daisy Ridley from the new trilogy, all criticisms fall to the side once the picture starts and Jones starts acting. Jyn (Jones’ character) is so completely different to Rey (Ridley) in her outlook and attitude that once one has seen both movie no confusion can really be had. While both actually do have comparable upbringings to a point the difference can be seen in their initial reactions to joining a resistance group. Jones portrays a caged animal early on in the film where Ridley is all optimism and though living in something resembling slave labour portrays the physicality of a free spirit rather than Jones’ tortured spirit. Elsewhere Ben Mendelsohn brings us 2016’s most watchable villain, Forest Whittaker is absolutely unnerving as the unpredictable rebel extremist leader and Alan Tudyk brings us the ultimate anti-C3PO as a rewired imperial droid more reminiscent of Marvin from Hitchhikers guide to the planet.
If you love Star Wars as I do, you are going to love Rogue One just as much. For me the beginning did a little too much planet-hopping, but really as soon as the second act kicked in I was absolutely hooked and honestly I can’t wait to see it over and over again.