Solo: A Star Wars Story: A Coty J. Spalding Review
Written by: Coty J. Spalding
Plot Summary – Solo: A Star Wars Story
Our story starts with Han Solo as a street urchin on Corellia, running junk for a mobster with his girlfriend, Qi’ra. Han and Qi’ra finally decide they’ve had enough after their most recent job and sneak off to the nearest space port, but are separated with Han managing to sneak in and Qi’ra getting caught
by the mobster’s thugs. Han knows he can’t go back for her now, so he opts to join the Imperial Flight Academy with the hope of returning to save Qi’ra.
We cut to three years later, with Han as a grunt in the Imperial Army on some backwater planet fighting who the hell knows for the cause of your guess is as good as mine. Han then bumps into a colonel named Tobias Beckett, his wife, Val, and their alien partner, Rio Durant, who he quickly realizes aren’t actually Imperial military. Han is about sick of the army life and attempts to convince Beckett to let him join his smuggling crew, but Beckett merely dumps into the stockade where he won’t cause him any trouble. The Imperial MPs decide for a laugh to dump Han with a beastly prisoner who turns out to be none other than the Mighty Chewbacca! Han convinces Chewie to team up with him to bust out of their prison and make Beckett take them on as part of his crew. Impressed by their persistence, Beckett agrees and takes them on a job to steal a mineral called Coaxium.
The job turns bad though when a group of pirates pop in, led by a warrior named, Enfys Nest, to steal the Coaxium from them before they can steal it from the Empire. Val and Rio are both killed and
the Coaxium is destroyed, so Beckett is forced to take Han and Chewie with him to meet with, Dryden Vos, a crime boss for a gang called Crimson Dawn. While Beckett attempts to make his apologies, Han recognizes Qi’ra as Dryden’s lieutenant. Dryden needs to Coaxium for his boss, Beckett, Han and Chewie
need it so that Dryden won’t kill them, and Qi’ra wants it found so that her boss won’t kill her old boyfriend, so the five of them come up with a plan. Steal unrefined Coaxium from Kessel and then purify it on a planet called Savareen, between Kessel and Dryden’s base of operations.
Qi’ra tags along with the boys to keep on them for Dryden, and they reach out to another smuggler who’s said own the Millennium Falcon, the only ship that can make the Kessel Run. The smuggler in question? None other than Lando Calrissian. Lando is at first uninterested in the job, but Han tries to trick him into giving away his ship since it’s all they really need. Lando manages to slip out of Han’s trap but Qi’ra coaxes him into working for them anyhow. Taking the Coaxium proves easy enough but then issue of getting it out comes up. You see, Kessel is run by the Pikes who make spice, which is critical to most Imperial medicine, and when word gets to Empire that there’s a big fuss on Kessel, guess who comes a-knockin’? Han and Chewie take control of the Falcon when Lando is injured and his first mate, a droid named L3-37, is killed, and the two of them navigate away around the Empire but slowly tear apart the nice, shiny, and pretty Falcon until it looks like an absolute piece of junk.
The ship eventually lands Savareen but they’re intercepted by Enfys Nest and abandoned by Lando. Enfys Nest reveal that they aren’t pirates but freedom fighters in league with the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Knowing that neither Vos nor the Empire would do nothing good with the Coaxium, Han, Chewie, and reluctantly, Qi’ra, temporarily align themselves with Enfys and attempt to trick Vos him once he arrives, but they’re betrayed by Beckett, wanting to get revenge for the death of his wife. Vos then sends out his thugs to take down Enfys and her crew, but are defeated, leaving Beckett the perfect opportunity to cross Vos too and steal the Coaxium himself while leading Chewie away as a hostage. Knowing neither one of them can trust the other, Vos and Han briefly fight over who should get to go after Beckett, with the former being killed by Qi’ra who tells Han to stop Beckett before he leaves. Han finds Beckett who tries to make some kind of a monologue to the boy, but Han shoots him dead less than sentence in. Beckett tells him with his last breath that that was the right call. Qi’ra then abandons Chewie and her old flame on Savareen, but Enfys leaves them one last bit of Coaxium to trade for a ship.
The film then ends with a pissed off Han beating Lando in a game of Sabaacc with the Falcon as stakes. Han and Chewie then head for Tatooine having heard about some big shot who needs a pair of guys for a job.
I just love how low stakes this movie is. In a franchise where every last movie is about the fate of the whole galaxy, it’s nice to just see a story about a couple of simple men trying to make their way in the universe. This isn’t about the prophesized chosen one, a hero turned villain, or a new hope, Han Solo is basically Ray Liotta in Goodfellas in space. There’s something oddly cozy about
Speaking of Han, kudos to Alden Erranreich for accomplishing the impossible, in not being Harrison Ford and still playing Han Solo. You can tell this Han isn’t as gruff and cynical as the one in A New Hope, but he’s still got that rogue-ish, bad boy charm, as well as that classic gag with his character where he acts like he knows exactly what he’s doing and is then instantly proven wrong. This is the first thing I’ve seen Alden in, and honestly, I’m impressed. I want more from
him. Keep him around, Hollywood.
I love Emilia Clarke. Daenerys isn’t my favorite character on Game of Thrones, but she’s in my top five, and people give her way too much crap in and out of universe. And I’d say the same thing about Emilia, she’s not Meryl Streep, but she’s a good actress! I really like Qi’ra here, she doesn’t seem conflicted about her life necessarily, but she does seem a little guarded about how much to tell Han. She keeps insisting to Han that she isn’t the same person that he had to leave on Corellia, but never says why. But by the end it’s pretty clear, if she was a real person who watched Star Wars, and not a character in it, Han wouldn’t be her favorite character. It’d be Darth Vader, pre-redemption. She wasn’t forced to be a gangster by Dryden Vos, she’s all in on the job.
Joonas Suotamo returns to the role of Chewbacca here, having been the great Peter Mayhew’s double in The Force Awakens and taking over for him full time in The Last Jedi, and he continues to do a very good job. I’d say he’s a bit more active than he was in the first three films, but that’s to be expected after four odd years of technological improvements, and Joonas has still got a lot of those Chewbacca mannerisms. I especially love a bit during Han and Lando’s card game at the end and Han shows Chewie his cards and Chewie just smacks the table and groans like Han has the worst freaking hand ever.
What I like about Woody Harrellson’s Beckett and to a lesser extent Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos is how they both have a bit of Han in them. Just the way they deliver some of their lines or even some of the lines they’re given, they don’t sound too far off from what you’d expect Harrison Ford as Han to say. And honestly, I like that. These two are probably the two most influential
men in Han’s life, they probably did partly inspire who he wanted to be as a person, definitely Beckett more so.
Believe the hype. Donald Glover’s Lando is just as brilliant as you’ve heard. He is suave, he is funny, he is smooth as hell, and he and Alden have the absolute best exchange of dialogue in the entire film.
Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos is surprisingly good as far as villains go. He’s no Vader or Palpatine, but he’s got menace and the scenes with him have a lot of tension in them, especially his last scene with Han when we know they’re gonna try to scam him.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge seems to have been getting some flak for her role as L3-37 and to be honest, I can see why the character would be a little grating, but personally I liked her. She was funny and personally I enjoy her whole position as a social justice advocate for droids. I was actually sad when she died personally.
I just love seeing how the Falcon was ruined from this beautiful ship from the trailers to the piece of junk we know and love from the Original Trilogy and the sequels.
THIS MOVIE HAS A DAMN CRAWL! THANK YOU KATHLEEN KENNEDY! THANK YOU FOR SEEING REASON THIS TIME!
Okay, this next one is a spoiler. If you haven’t seen Solo yet, (and this movie’s barely made any money, so you very well may not have) skip ahead. If not, stick around… Still here? Okay then. So it’s revealed at the end that man behind the Crimson Dawn is none other than- If you’re still here, this is your own damn fault- Darth freaking Maul! With Ray Park physically returning from
The Phantom Menace and Sam Witwer returning for the voice from Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars! As just a fan of the expanded universe and the cartoons, it’s just such a delight to see Maul in an actual movie taking place long after TPM. And hearing Duel of Fates play over the scene and explicit reference to Dathomir was just icing on the damn cake.
So the way Han tries to trick Lando at first is by playing sabaac against him and betting his non-existent ship against Lando’s Falcon, and Lando beats Han by cheating. Personally, I don’t care for that. Lando’s a conman as much as Han, and I wouldn’t put cheating past either of them, but if I were Ron Howard or one of the Kasdans, I would’ve made it so that Lando beat Han fair and square and then Han beat Lando in the end. Admittedly, it’s probably more dramatically satisfying to have Lando cheat and then have that ability taken from in the finale, but I like the idea of Han and Lando beating each other in a fair game. I think it adds to the idea that these two are genuine equals and rivals. I think cheating just turns Lando into just a well-dressed shlub for Han to beat in the end, when we know he’s really more than that, or at least has the
potential to be based on what we already know from Return of the Jedi.
Throughout the film, Han keeps talking to Qi’ra about how he wants to build a life for them together again but Qi’ra insists she’s not the person Han knew back on Corellia. I like that she’s honest with him, but I kind of wish she was a little more upfront. Just come and say “Han, honey, I’m a murderer. I didn’t kill people on a battlefield, I killed them in their beds, I killed them while they ate dinner, I killed them while we had sex, and in so many other ways. You don’t want anything from me.” But she just keeps saying “I’m not who you think I am anymore.” Which is fine, but I think you could stand to be a little less vague.
Hooray! We finally have a black woman in a Star Wars movie! Wait, she dies inside the first 45 minutes? What the hell?!
Not much else to say. I’m someone who’s loved Star Wars since I was five years old, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t crazy about The Last Jedi, I don’t think it’s the worst movie ever or even the worst Star Wars movie in terms of storytelling or acting or dialogue, but it’s definitely something that disappointed me to be honest. After that I was even less excited for a Han Solo movie that nobody asked for, but then I saw the trailers and I figured, you know what? This could be a fun time. And it was. It was just such a nice palette cleanser to go from disappointed and a little conflicted to just so warmly surprised. In fact, seeing this movie, it kind of makes me feel a little less cold towards The Last Jedi and definitely more excited for whatever Episode IX will be. I’m gonna give Solo: A Star Wars Story, a 4 out of 5.