Solo: A Star Wars Story is the space cowboy heist movie I didn’t think I wanted but which I quite enjoyed.
Look, I’m not immersed in the world of Star Wars. But I did grow up with Han Solo in the cinema and so I’m bemused by how down some people are on Alden Ehrenreich. It’s true that Ehrenreich’s portrayal of the young Solo is pivotal in making this work, and to my mind he has this as right as anyone who isn’t Harrison Ford is going to get it. There’s a bit of swagger, the smirk is there, and he looks the part. I have no problem with Ehrenreich at all.
It helps that Chewie is just right too, as their buddy dynamic (with an imaginative meet-cute) is a high point throughout. And Donald Glover is spot on for Lando.
Some of the other casting left me disappointed though. Woody Harrelson was exactly the same as he is in most things I’ve seen him in, and his character was largely predictable. I read someone suggesting that the roles of Harrelson and Thandie Newton should have been swapped, and I have to agree this would have made a much more interesting outcome. And I don’t get all the Paul Bettany love. He does nothing for me, although I did love the demi-cape arrangement.
But the biggest disappointment has to be Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra. Given where she ends up, this is the most interesting story arc in the whole film but she seemed bored, had no chemistry with Ehrenreich, and was too dull to match the femme fatale aura that had clearly been written for her.
The story itself takes a while to get going, and the opening 20 minutes are perhaps the roughest ride. But once it settles down, I found it easy to enjoythe self-contained-ness of the plot. Yes there is the occasional reference to things happening elsewhere, but there’s no need to worry about The Force and it’s a long time before A New Hope comes in to play, and so it turns out it’s just a good old heist story, which happenes to be set in a galaxy far, far away.
I really enjoyed the smart one-liners (writer Lawrence Kasdan clearly does know his Han), the nonsense about how Han came to have the Milennium Falcon, and the (finally!) sorting out the parsecs-is-distance-not-time conundrum.
As I implied at the beginning – I didn’t need to know how he did it, but it was enjoyable finding out!