Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun and fast-paced addition to the Star Wars franchise, boasting visually stunning action sequences and strong performances from its stellar cast. While Solo has had a generally positive (albeit lukewarm) reception, many of the films' critics seem less focused on the content of the film itself, instead claiming that it is unnecessary or imagining what the film could have been if Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had finished their original version.
Despite a troubled and expensive production — Solo is the most expensive Star Wars film of all time — the film has started off Memorial Day Weekend with a strong performance on opening night. Audiences are sure to love the action sequences, humor, and chemistry, especially between Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as Han and Lando. Here are some of the highlights from Solo: A Star Wars Story — and no, we didn't include Darth Maul coming back.
- This Page: Han Meets Chewie, the Train Heist, and the Sabacc Game
- Page 2: The Kessel Run, Enfys Nest, and More
Han Meets Chewie
The beginning of Solo shows Han leaving the criminal underbelly of Corellia and joining the Imperial Academy to become a pilot — before quickly cutting to him in the middle of battlefield as an infantry soldier. When he realizes that Beckett and Val are running a con, they throw him under the bus, telling his commanding officer that he plans to desert. Stormtroopers throw him into a pit, reminiscent of the rancor pit at Jabba's Palace, excited to see him eaten by "the beast".
However, in a subversion of the classic Star Wars monster trope, it's not a wampa or a dianoga revealed, but Chewbacca. Audiences already know that Chewie and Han are the oldest of friends, so seeing them meet inside of a dungeon lair is a refreshing take on the Legends story of their meeting. Injecting some humor into the dire situation, Han even speaks a little Shyriiwook, which helps the two forge a plan to escape without their Imperial captors knowing what they're up to.
The train heist on Vandor-1 is a breathtaking and complicated action sequence that combines hand-to-hand and pistol combat on the ground with some impressive aerial maneuvers. At first, the job seems to be going as planned, with Han and Chewie releasing the back end of the train as Beckett provides cover. Meanwhile, Val prepares to destroy the bridge in front of them as Rio Durant pilots their ship, ready to carry off the cargo of coaxium.
Unfortunately, the plan goes haywire as soon as Enfys Nest, a pirate who has followed Beckett, arrives with their crew. Han, Chewie, and Beckett are pinned down, Rio is injured sending the ship zigzagging above, and Val has to take on the additional security droids that are deployed. Han finally gets to show his skills as a pilot, saving Beckett and Chewbacca, but Rio and Val are killed in the process and the coaxium is destroyed, much to Beckett's dismay.
While losing Thandie Newton's Val this early in the film was a disappointment, her self-detonation to save the rest of Beckett's crew was an intense climax to an excellent, fast-paced scene.
Lando Wins Sabacc
Most Star Wars fans will already know the story of how Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of sabacc. But, like most boasts that Han tells, he doesn't tell the whole story. When he first meets Lando, Han plays him in sabacc, and seems to be doing well. In a final gambit, Han bets his ship (which, by the way, he doesn't actually have) against Lando's ship, the Falcon. At the last moment, Lando wins: he's had the perfect card up his sleeve the whole time. It's a fun subversion that hinges on what fans already know, getting their hopes up alongside Han's. As a result, Lando ends up coming along on the job with Han and Qi'ra.
While the second sabacc scene, where Han successfully wins the Falcon, is also fun, the first scene features a montage of Han and Lando playing that puts them alongside some interesting and eclectic aliens. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover both have a lot of fun and chemistry as they play, and it's the perfect way to introduce the young Lando.
The Kessel Run
Much like the fated game of sabacc in which Han wins the Falcon, the Kessel Run is a single throwaway comment in A New Hope that grew into a complicated debate. Harrison Ford's Solo brags, "It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs." But parsecs are a measure of distance, not time, which Solo takes into account. Instead of taking the typical twenty parsec route to Kessel, Han pilots the Falcon close to the Maw, a cluster of black holes, narrowly escaping being destroyed by a space-squid. Using a drop of coaxium, however, the Falcon is able to jump to hyperspace and out of the reach of both the squid and the gravity well.
The Kessel Run is a mythic story, and bringing it to the screen is no small feat. The TIE Fighter chase, followed by the squid's reveal, up until Falcon navigating around the Maw, is visually breathtaking and peppered with moments of humor. By the time the Falcon arrives at Savareen, it's a wreck of a ship, but Han is already bragging that he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs... if you round down, that is.
"I hate you." "I know."
In another callback to the original series, as Han and Lando survey the Falcon on Savareen, Han begins trying to strike up a conversation with the ship's owner. Lando storms off, saying, "I hate you," to which Han sheepishly grins, "I know." Han and Lando have always had a complicated relationship (read: cheating each other and selling each other out for their own best interest), and Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover effortlessly sell the sometimes-friends-sometimes-rivals who keep coming back to each other for help. There are dozens of moments where Ehrenreich and Glover shine in this film, but these five words of dialogue show off their strengths as actors.
Enfys Nest Revealed
Enfys Nest could easily have been another Captain Phasma or Boba Fett (...at least in the original trilogy). Put a villain in a cool looking mask, give them moments of intimidating potential, and then, just when they need to jump into action, let them choke. Instead, however, Solo goes in a different direction: Nest isn't some masked man, she's actually the beginning of the Rebel Alliance against the Empire!
Lucasfilm went to great lengths to keep Enfys Nest's identity secret, to the point that there was even confusion over what gender the character was. It wasn't until after the film was released that the actress playing Enfys Nest was confirmed. Even with her brief screen time on Savareen, Nest shows how badass she is. Maybe she could appear in the Boba Fett movie and teach him a thing or two...
Han Shoots First
Han shoots Beckett. Not because Beckett had a gun pointed at him. Not in a fire-fight. While Beckett is mid-sentence. Han shoots Beckett.
It is surprising, even though it feels inevitable. By the time that Han confronts Beckett, it doesn't feel possible that both of them will make it off Savareen alive. Beckett has double-crossed Han, doubled-crossed the Crimson Dawn, and has nothing to lose. And, of course, Beckett is a sharpshooter, and he could probably draw his gun faster than Han could fire. Beckett even tells Han that he did the right thing shooting him, but that doesn't change the fact that the end of the film signals that Han is becoming hardened by his life as a smuggler.