Just five months after the latest installment in the Star Wars sequel series, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest standalone Star Wars film. And despite the distinct lack of resemblance between young Han’s relative unknown actor Alden Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford, the movie is actually a decent watch. Though it presents nothing extraordinary, Solo does provide a mildly entertaining addition to the Star Wars franchise.
The film begins with Han and love interest Qi’ra on slave planet Corellia. Immediately revealing Han’s devious nature, he tricks his way out of Corellia, while Qi’ra is unable to escape. Han soon joins the Imperial infantry where he meets his future crewmate Beckett.
For enthusiasts, Solo is a real fan service treat. Little pieces of Han’s backstory are spread throughout the entire film, such as his first encounters with Lando and Chewbacca, the game of Sabaac in which he acquires the Millenium Falcon, and even the origin of his name.
Perhaps most significantly, we finally see Han’s most famous journey: making the Kessel Run in just 12 parsecs. After failing a mission to obtain precious mineral coaxium for criminal Dryden Vos, newly reunited Han and Qi’ra, along with Beckett, must travel to Kessel steal the mineral from their mines.
Of all the actors in the film, the standout was definitely Donald Glover as gambler extraordinaire Lando Calrissian. Convincingly cunning, hilarious and charismatic, Glover is the highlight of the few scenes that he appears in. His droid L3 is similarly entertaining. She makes clever quips and Lando and Han, and even incites a droid rebellion on Kessel as they are obtaining the coaxium.
The film introduces many new villains and heroes along with the appearances of several familiar faces, including a shocking cameo at the very end. Paul Bettany gives a sufficiently wicked performance as Dryden Vos (though it is somewhat difficult to separate his voice from his Avengers counterpart Vision). The most intriguing villains however come in the form of masked marauders Han runs into throughout the movie.
Han and crew are met a few times by a group of marauders called the Cloud-Riders led by the mysterious Enfys Nest. This group of pirates, aside from parts of their masks, looks unlike any Star Wars villains before them. Without revealing any major details, their role in the film is incredibly surprising, and their reveal is one of the film’s more substantive scenes.
While there are definitely interesting plots introduced, it’s sometimes hard to tell how everything actually lines up. Toward the beginning, Beckett gives Han a warning: “you can’t trust anyone… it’s the only way to live.” This plays out by confusingly intertwining characters and never really being able to tell if certain characters are bad or good. There is no real explanation of why things become so hard to follow at points – we are apparently supposed to expect this as a consequence of Beckett’s warning.
Outside of this confusion, Solo is still a fairly interesting story. Filled with references to other Star Wars films, intense journeys through space, plenty of action sequences and just enough comedy to keep it lighthearted, Solo has all of the ingredients of a great Star Wars film. All it’s missing is better delivery.