After escaping the brutal streets of Corellia, Han (Alden Ehrenreich) makes a friend in a Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han and Chewbacca find their way into a group of thieves led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Beckett’s crew steal coaxium, a precious, valuable fuel source. As part of a job for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), the head of a crime syndicate known as Crimson Dawn, Beckett and Han plan to steal some raw coaxium from the salt mines on Kessel. Dryden sends his top lieutenant Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) to oversee the mission.
The Kessel Run is extremely dangerous and the raw coaxium is highly unstable, meaning the group will need a fast ship with a skilled pilot to complete the mission. Qi’ra, seeks out the man she knows can help them get the coaxium and transport it to be processed in time, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). If Han and his crew can steal the coaxium from Kessel and get away, they may be able to get out from under the thumb of Dryden Vos. But knowing who you can trust in a world of thieves makes the task that much more dangerous.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest installment of Disney backed Star Wars films giving insight into the events leading up to A New Hope.
Filling the shoes of Harrison Ford is no small feat. Ford so embodied the role that it is almost impossible to find someone who can do the character justice. Enter Alden Ehrenreich. He lacks a bit of the charm and arrogance Ford brought to the role, but he will suffice. Ehrenreich’s Han isn’t quite the same character who became one of the most iconic roles in film. As a young man, he is naive yet hungry, and much more trusting than the Han from the original trilogy. However, the events in this film create the man who stole the movies many of us grew up with. Emilia Clarke has played the lead in romantic comedies and a ruthless yet well-meaning dragon queen. Solo places her somewhere in between, showing she can play just about any role thrown her way. She cares for Han and wants to protect him, but working for a gangster like Vos demands a certain level of loyalty.
Woody Harrelson is probably the best choice for Han’s mentor/idol. Beckett is likable and his wit and style obviously shape who Han becomes. He takes care of those close to him but little can stop him from completing whatever he sets out to do. Donald Glover is another easy casting decision. Glover has the same suaveness Billy Dee Williams gave the character. He is debonair, drawing in everyone around him. After meeting Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, we learn very little of who he is or his connection to Han. We get just a taste of their relationship but it could have gone a little further to really explain the love/hate between them.
To be honest, no one really asked for a Solo backstory. Part of the character’s charm is his mysterious past. That said, the film fills in pretty much every detail about his past. We are told how he met Chewbacca, the origin of his name, how he got the Millennium Falcon, even a clarification on his claim of making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. We may not have asked for it, but it is the prequel everyone wanted.
Disney has done an excellent job of making all the Star Wars films feel like the originals. From the technology to the settings and characters, even the quality of the film hearkens back to the original trilogy. This gives the films a familiarity that helps connect them. Even small touches like the way Lando pronounces “Han” and Han pronounces “Falcon”, among other, more subtle connections, give the film an authenticity.
While it isn’t necessarily my favorite, Solo is still a good Star Wars movie. The action scenes are top-notch. (Definitely see it in the theater – as if you weren’t already planning to do that.) The acting is well done. And it tells me a story I didn’t think I wanted to see. It even left me wanting more. Not just wanting more about Han, which is almost a certainty, but it will be a shame if we don’t get more Donald Glover as Lando. I have a feeling this may be one of those films that I like with each subsequent viewing. I’ll let you know.