In Solo, we follow Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) through his formative years (but you probably already know that). The movie centers on a heist and plays out pretty much how you would expect. We find out how he met Chewie and Lando (Donald Glover), how he got the Millennium Falcon, what the “Kessel Run” actually is, and also delve a bit into what makes him such a loner. The beats are all pretty standard, and there’s nothing too egregious within the script as far as storytelling is concerned. Is any of this necessary? Not at all. Is it interesting? Not particularly. Is it fun? Absolutely.
The film starts out with a neat little chase sequence on Han’s home planet of Corellia. The scene is well shot, has some terrific looking effects, and the world is littered with great looking aliens. In that way the first scene sets the tone for the movie: it’s a flat-out adventure film. Expect a bunch of well-done action sequences (there’s a great “train sequence,” and the “Kessel Run” is excellent), some quippy dialogue (a bit too much of it referencing the "real" SW movies), a lot of spectacular sights and sounds (the creatures look great, and the score is fantastic), and not much else. The fate of the galaxy may be at stake, but that’s not a concern for the characters in this movie. Han Solo wants to get off world with his girl, get a ship, and ride off into the sunset. It's simple, and I would argue the film is better for it.
The cast of characters is pretty generic, but they all fill their archetypical roles adequately enough. Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) is Han’s mentor and leads the crew that will pull off the heist. He’s not the most engaging character in the world, but Woody is so likable that you can’t help but enjoy him. Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) is Han’s love interest, and I was pleasantly surprised with how her character was utilized. She’s not very exciting, but she serves a purpose in the story, and Clarke does well enough with what she’s given. Lando is Lando (Glover is magnificent as usual), and Chewie is the same big lovable oaf that we’ve now been watching for up to 40 years. This is the best Chewbacca content “Star Wars” has ever given us, and if there’s one thing that makes me want a sequel to this, it’s the thought of seeing more of him.
George Lucas got the idea for his “Star Wars” saga in large part from seeing the old “Flash Gordon” adventure serials of the 1930s. We know this because he’s admitted as much. These episodic little “mini-movies” weren’t heady as far as themes were concerned, and were a lot more like something you probably watched on Saturday mornings growing up. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a lot like those. There’s almost nothing there as far as substance is concerned, but there is enough in the way of likable characters, exciting action sequences, and laugh-inducing one-liners to make up for it. Hopefully, George is smiling.