Han Solo is one of the iconic Star Wars characters, and now that Disney owns the franchise and is intent on putting out yearly installments, it only makes sense that he’d get at least one movie dedicated to his adventures when he was a younger man. The first attempt at that is Solo: A Star Wars Story, which details some parts of his early adulthood before eventually becoming the smuggler we know and love as he becomes involved in a heist mission set against a backdrop of a criminal underworld.
Han is played by Alden Ehrenreich, a talented actor who doesn’t entirely try to mimic Harrison Ford‘s portrayal of the character. If they wanted that, the filmmakers would have hired Anthony Ingruber, who did just that in The Age of Adaline. There are elements of it there in Ehrenreich’s performance, but he makes it something of his own. If it’s not entirely successful, it’s a question of expectations; when dealing with a character this beloved, if he isn’t exactly how one pictured in one’s mind it feels like a disappointment.
That’s part of how the entire movie plays out, really. If you have already decided how, for instance, Han and Chewbacca meet and become friends, then if the movie does something different, you’ll be disappointed. If you want to read that as a defense of the movie then feel free to do so. Expectations of quality are one thing; wanting the plot to emulate your head-canon is another. And Solo is quality enough to be worth checking out, assuming you like breezy space adventures set in the Star Wars universe.
The problem for me comes in how little there really is to Solo, especially since almost all of the best bits count as spoilers. It’s fun seeing younger versions of characters we’ve already gotten to know, many of the references are enjoyable, learning how [thing] happened or how Han acquired [another thing] is interesting, and there are a couple of surprises that you probably won’t see coming scattered throughout, too. But thematically? It’s pretty vapid. And while we learn about some things in Han’s past, we don’t get to know a whole lot more about him as a character; he’s more or less the same guy we already know.
But, yeah, the main heist mission is decent and the chase scenes are good, there are some humorous moments and a couple of character dynamics that are exciting. And it moves along at a decent clip. There just isn’t a lot there. It’s shallow fun. That’s okay. It’s a well-presented, decently made, breezy adventure movie that follows a young version of a character you probably like. That’s enough.
While it doesn’t live up to the classics of its franchise, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun adventure movie starring a young version of one of the most iconic characters of the series. It’s lacking in depth, but it does a solid job of presenting us with a few important moments in his life, as well as delivering a pretty enjoyable heist story. It’s a good time at the movies, but it lacks staying power. And if you’ve already settled on a head-canon for the character’s younger self, you might not be able to give it a fair shake.
Conclusion: Solo: A Star Wars Story is an enjoyable space adventure.
Recommendation: You like Han Solo and are okay with a movie that might not be identical to your head-canon? Solo: A Star Wars Story is worth watching.