This tells you all you need to know about this standalone Star Wars film, which is set just before Star Wars IV. I'm not spilling the beans when I say that the rebellion does succeed at the end, because the entire world knows that jedi protege-cum-pilot Luke Skywalker brings down the Death Star in Star Wars IV, thanks to the stolen plans.
So, if everyone knows how Rogue One will end, what's there to watch? Viewers are treated to a rather mundane first half about hope springs eternal and an extended battle scene that reminded me of the final battle sequence in Revenge of the Jedi (1983), but lacking the latter's panache, humour and energy.
Let's face it, the battle scene is the the raison d'etre to watch Rogue One. It certainly gave a jolt to my system and fulfils a prominent character's statement: "War is inevitable." War is, of course, why the United States's military budget is humongous, which means that it is the sole superpower in the world.
|(From left) Diego Luna, Felicity Jones |
and stand-out-performer Alan Tudyk.
Spunky heroine Jyn Erso (English actress Felicity Jones of Inferno and The Theory of Everything) will rouse a rebellion and any man's loins, but I did not find her as entrancing as Rey (Daisy Ridley) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Then we have Alliance Captain Cassian Andor (Mexican Diego Luna), whom I had a hard time understanding because of his accent. You'd have thought that director Gareth Edwards would have cast a wider net to get someone whom viewers could understand.
Cassian is assigned to carry out a dastardly act but goes against his orders to help Jyn.
|Wen Jiang and Donnie Yen reflect China's|
vital importance to US films.
In one scene, Team A's jet fighters attack Team B's installation with impunity, and I was thinking to myself: Doesn't Team B have a radar system that would have tipped it off to Team A's impending arrival?
Forest Whitaker plays Saw Gerrera, the leader of the rebels. Saw, as the sole black character in Rogue One, should have got more screen time, but alas, this was not to be.
However, two Chinese actors get decent screen action time: Hong Kong martial arts expert Donnie Yen plays blind jedi Chirrut. He can ward off enemies easily since he depends on other senses, but his character reminded me of that played by Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli (2010).
The other is Wen Jiang, who plays Baze, Chirrut's sidekick. Their presence shows the great importance of the Chinese market to a US film's success.
Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler and Jason Bourne) plays an Imperial pilot who has a change of heart about his allegiance.
Darth Vader appears sporadically, and his chokehold isn't as frightening as it used to be. The film lacks a really evil baddie, which is probably a reason for its lacklustre mood.
|An Imperial tank comes under attack by rebels in |
a narrow Baghdad-looking street.
I was reminded of real rebels in Iraq setting a trap for US soldiers.
The loss of a parent is briefly discussed in Rogue One, as is the reasons for joining a rebellion. Rebellions incur great losses, but nothing will be more heart-wrenching than watching a non-human taking one for the team.
2 1/2 out of 5 stars
The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.