If I had to come up with a word to describe Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that word would be BALLSY. Johnson’s follow-up to The Force Awakens was a wildly successful continuation of both old characters and new. Our new heroes stories progressed very well with the help of members of the original trilogy. Rich performances, surprising plot twists, and an amazing score by John Williams made this one of the most memorable Star Wars movies of all time. The “This is not going to go the way you think” line from Luke from the trailers couldn’t have been more accurate.
The standout performances of this movie for me were Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley as Rey. Kylo Ren’s constant battle within himself is always compelling to watch as Driver’s performance is a perfect blend of mental torture and uncontrollable rage, but also still calculated in how he uses his power on others around him. Rey becoming more connected to the Force was wildly intriguing. The chemistry between the two characters provide some of the most intriguing scenes in the entire saga, including one scene that was not only risky but could be seen as polarizing.
After only getting a brief shot of him at the end of The Force Awakens, we finally got what I would call the real return of Luke Skywalker in this film. Luke is a hermit at this point in his life, having completely cut himself off from everyone he knows, and also the Force itself after failing Han, Leia, and their son Ben who eventually became Kylo Ren. This is not Luke’s story, but the next phase of his character arc could not have been handled more beautifully, as most of the tear-jerking moments involve his character in some way or another.
Carrie Fisher’s final performance as General Leia Organa is nothing short of graceful. She had completed her scenes before her untimely death last year, so while it didn’t affect the character arc in the movie, knowing the actress definitely won’t be back for Episode IX makes seeing her on screen an emotional moment every time. Her story arc with Poe Dameron makes the transition for her character easy to foresee looking forward, as Poe was given much more to do than he was in The Force Awakens, setting up his future as a leader of The Resistance.
The only minor gripe for me would be the overall arc including Finn along with new characters Rose and DJ. I thought Finn and Rose were both very good in the movie, but felt their overall mission and story was lackluster and just gave them something to do. Benicio Del Toro’s performance as DJ is solid, but likely would have been pointless if it didn’t have the payoff that it did later in the movie. I really hope Finn’s journey feels more a part of the main overall story in Episode IX because John Boyega’s portrayal of the character is excellent and I feel the actor deserves a bigger role in the overall franchise.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is without a doubt one of the best Star Wars movies yet. Rian Johnson has taken the franchise to new heights, making bold choices throughout the whole movie that result in moments that create genuine shock value while also having a lot of emotional weight. I personally can’t wait for his own original trilogy of Star Wars films that he’ll be doing in the future. Most importantly though is that fans have a lot to look forward to with Episode IX.