Solo film review: Best when it embraces its favorite action-movie urges

Enlarge / Oh Alden you beautiful fool, what have you gotten yourself into?
Warning: This piece contains some minor spoilers for Solo.

Solo, Lucasfilm’s latest addition to the canon, in no way represents a standard Star Wars film. Viewers will encounter zero mythos involving Jedis and The Force. The film doesn’t grapple with massive allegorical topics, either. Destiny does not face off against free will, while franchise flagships like democracy-vs.-dictatorship and the tragedies of war merit muted mentions at best.

Of course, pushback started before anyone had even seen the thing to know that, with near-instant cries for a standalone Lando film or a smaller, original story impacted by the larger global (galactic?) situation (something like Prospect, for instance) instead. What ultimately made it to screen likely won’t change those desires. In fact, hardcore fans may also walk away from Solo thinking more about why this film exists or what went into specific decisions rather than the core story itself.

That’s unfortunate, because Solo mostly makes for a fine summer blockbuster. Its creative team has taken some beloved action-film DNA and satisfyingly shifted it to a galaxy far, far away. But for those wanting more from their favorite space saga, expect to let out a few Wookie roars upon exit.

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The longer trailer for Solo.

Started from the bottom…

Existing Star Wars lore already explained that Han Solo came from Corellia, an industrial planet known for producing ships and good pilots. Solo starts by showing that even at a young age, our anti-hero worked as a bit of a smuggler. Han’s initially doing some dirty work for Lady Proxima (a local organized crime boss who looks like a caterpillar) in order to earn enough money to buy a ship and leave with his main squeeze, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones).

Things don’t go as planned, of course. After a deal gone bad, Qi’ra and Han smuggle a bit of hyper-valuable hyperfuel hoping to bribe an Imperial ticket-taker for a one-way ride off the planet. But Proxima’s forces stay in pursuit, and the two would-be lovebirds get separated. Han suddenly has only one escape option: to enlist in the Imperial army in the hopes of becoming a pilot.