“This is not going to go the way you think.”
This line, spoken by Luke Skywalker to Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (and a few of its trailers) was recently suggested by actor Mark Hamill to be “the most important line” in the whole of Episode VIII, and he’s right. In fact, in the finished film the line comes as less of a hint at what’s to come and more of a mission statement for the entire endeavour.
Expect the unexpected – because everything you thought you knew about The Last Jedi is wrong.
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From the very earliest scenes of the film, when Rey and Luke’s long-awaited meeting is finally realised, to an emotional final clash between Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and our heroes, The Last Jedi zigs where you expect it to zag, setting up predictable beats only to blast them away at the last moment.
Long-awaited revelations are realised – but the outcome does not play in the way many had anticipated. Fan servicing original trilogy callbacks appear, but have a central role in the story that makes them more than just Easter Eggs. A redemptive moment for one new character is set up, then fulfilled by someone else entirely, while one seemingly crucial figure is cast aside at a stroke.
Above all else, the return of Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is a darker, more challenging storyline than many would have expected, right up until the film’s later moments.
The end result is a bold, ballsy take on the Star Wars saga that is genuinely quite unlike anything I’ve seen before – but it’s bound to divide fans. Some people who’ve seen the film are enraged by the film’s treatment of certain characters and story arcs, and the routes director Rian Johnson has taken won’t appeal to everybody.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. The Last Jedi will incense some but absolutely enthral others, and the end result will be passionate feeling on both sides that’s in stark contrast to the wider but shallower mass appeal of The Force Awakens (which I still really like, by the way – it’s just made to perform a different function to The Last Jedi).
Perhaps the most telling aspect of The Last Jedi’s unpredictability and vision, though, comes from one simple fact – that in all the months and years of feverish online speculation, nobody came near to guessing how the whole thing would pan out. Not even close. No, not even you.
By the film’s conclusion, I was genuinely left with next to no idea about where the franchise will go next in 2019’s Episode IX and beyond – but I’m excited to see what’s coming. If nothing else, the film’s scale and imagination bodes well for Rian Johnson’s own new Star Wars trilogy.
I won’t even begin to try and anticipate what he’ll come up with for that one.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas from Thursday 14th December