Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

The first viewing played as a very good, but very overstuffed and distracted, epic. The second viewing crystallized it all into a sprightly cat's cradle of character and theme — every bit Rian Johnson's film, circumstance coiling around our heroes and forcing them to make unexpected left turns and improvisations.

The Last Jedi is about a few things: confronting failure; the heroism of mere survival; freeing oneself from dogma without throwing away what's strong about the past; learning to prize the health of the many over the accomplishments of the few; and opening your eyes to systemic horrors, but not letting them trivialize your life or what you fight for.

Luke, Rey, Rose, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren all learn these lessons as they proceed through the film. Characters like Yoda, Leia and Admiral Holdo seem to have internalized them already. In a way, it's a film about listening to your elders when they've got wisdom to dispense — and letting them obsolesce when they don't.

So the question I'm left with is: what's the difference between Holdo's final act and Finn's later attempt to replicate it? It might be a subtle answer, or even one that the film didn't define quite clearly enough — is this about preserving hope, or has Finn merely traded running away from danger for running fatalistically towards it? In practical terms, the difference is simple: the difference is Rose.

I'm consistently impressed, too, at how this sequel trilogy is about the old guard laying down their lives to secure a better future for the young. Maybe that's the real difference between Holdo and Finn, and in that sense, it's a direct antithesis to the political climate of 2017.

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