Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Similar to how Revenge of the Sith was a full-on embrace of the melodrama and stakes associated with a Star Wars film, The Last Jedi is almost the complete opposite: a progressive, mature and nuanced look at a Star Wars film. Throughout the film not only does it showcase the typical beats of a mid-chapter Star Wars film (The Empire Strikes Back) but provides more subversive, interesting and subdued takes on its themes. Concepts such as the futile nature of good and evil, letting the past become something new and revaluating the role of each character is something this film does extremely well.

Benicio Del Toro's DJ acts as a representation of some of these themes. He poses various questions to Finn that question the black and white nature of the First Order and the Resistance. Both sides while having different goals, succumb to similar vices and are both filled with humans who have made mistakes at one time or another. This concept later comes back when Finn and Rose get captured. DJ doesn’t see it as a betrayal but as a minor failure in the Resistances victory. DJ just decides to go along with it for the time being, he just doing what he needs to get by, he’s a free man, not bound by collectives.

A find this dialogue sums up his thought process:

DJ: “They blow you up today, you can blow them up tomorrow. It's just business.”

Finn: “You’re Wrong”

DJ: “Maybe”

Not only does this act as a summing up of his character, but it also acts as a mission statement for the film. This line of dialogue questions the very nature of conflict in the Star Wars universe. DJ acts from the perspective of someone who has seen all this war before and sees through all the superficiality of it. Finn is younger, more naive and views the events in a more simplistic manner. DJ shows us reality is not set in stone and that things aren’t set in absolutes. Showing us that even in a galaxy far, far away things are more real and complex then we might have initially presumed. Rian Johnson also uses this interaction to make a statement about the simplistic subtext of previous Star Wars films.

DJ is the closest character to Rian’s personality, Using DJ as a way to put his own commentary on the franchise. This choice doesn’t alienate the audience however, it invites them to think about more about how we view Star Wars films. In fact, Rian's treatment of Rey and Lukes arc throughout the film acts as a redefinition of what the Jedi and Force mean. Letting go of the Jedi lore and using the force as a personal means of expression. When Luke sacrifices himself, in the end, it allows him to help others while evaluating his purpose. This allows him to exercise his own means of expression.

That’s the main thing that draws me to The Last Jedi. Rian puts his own commentary while keeping the integrity and personality of the characters. This isn’t just some post-modernist meta jerk off for the director’s pleasure, the film actually cares about its characters and the entertainment factor. You can still watch the film without the subtext or commentary and still have a good time with it. If you hate The Last Jedi and what it tries to do with the franchise that’s fair enough. It’s not for everyone and I don’t like every single choice and subplot that was included. However, I look at what the film has done right it trumps any flaws I might have with it. The Last Jedi is tied with The Empire Strikes Back as the greatest Star Wars film and that feels so fucking good to say.

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