With “Rogue One,” the “Star Wars” franchise has completed its narrative arc: main story, sequel, prequel and, finally, Nyquil.
Has there always been a Rebel Alliance? And the Empire … was it ever not mean and nasty? OK, the tension is infinite, and we are instructed to accept that the battle between good and evil is eternal. Fine, but who pays for all these imperial starships, sonic cannons, atmospheric shields, droids, cargo ships and ray guns? Are there — somewhere out there — taxpayers?
“Rogue One” is a two-hour retelling of everything you already know, which raises the final, anguished question: Why are we here? Maybe it’s to keep the fans fed until “The Last Jedi” hits the big screens Dec. 15. A pick-me-up between blockbusters.
But we did not feel picked up. We felt picked on. Even the three-second epiphany that appears on screen just as the curtain falls was not enough to justify — much less explain — the endless and redundant skirmishes, shootouts and explosions.
Felicity Jones is Jyn, the spunky leader of the rebels. Her dad, the great scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), is a good guy, but he’s been kidnapped and possibly co-opted by the Empire. At the bidding of the wicked Orson Krennis (Ben Mendelsohn), Galen has been forced to design a … wait for it … here it comes … Death Star!
Yes: that Death Star.
But we learn that the fundamentally decent Galen has implanted within this planet-killer a secret weakness or portal or bomb or banana peel (hard to keep track). So, the question that runs throughout the movie is: Can the rebels disable/destroy the Death Star? OK, everybody, let the explosions begin!
Jyn’s team is a rough-and-tumble collection of killers with really weird names. Let’s see … there’s Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a blind monk named Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Diego Luna as Jyn’s BFF, Cassian Andor. It’s yet another annoyance: You were fine back in the day with C-3PO and Obi Wan because it was kind of fun learning the lingo. But it’s gotten out of hand. Nor do you ever know which planet or moon you’re on as everyone zips about shooting and blowing up.
Almost forgot: there’s the inevitable droid who channels Oscar Wilde as he performs heroically for his rebel masters. And, like most everything else in “Rogue One,” you’ve been there, done that.