Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is One Huge Fake Out

Image: IMDB

The first time I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I left the cinema with a big, dumb grin on my face. I began trying to place it at the top of the list of Star Wars films. The next day, I saw The Last Jedi again. I was still excited by it, but instead of leaving giddy and excited, I felt a pang of discontent.

The Last Jedi has a major problem.

[Warning: Major spoilers below!]

I look at the New Trilogy like a rollercoaster. The Force Awakens is the line-up, a decade-long wait to get on, sit down and strap in. Once you're locked in, you slowly climb that first hill almost bouncing out of your chair with excitement, anticipation building – what’s on the other side of this? You can't predict exactly what is coming. You may have seen the rollercoaster from the ground, but being on it? You have no idea how this is going to go.

You reach the first peak, the rollercoaster perched ready to thrill, allowing you to look over the edge and see the entire track for what it is...

And then The Force Awakens ends.

The Last Jedi is that next initial drop and turn. The following twists, turns and spins ensure that initial climb is all but erased from your memory. It's irrelevant. You're here, hands in the air, screaming about how fast you're going, wind blowing your lips clean off your gums.

The first time I saw The Last Jedi I was strapped in, embracing the turns. I was there, in every moment. I watched Luke drink alien-cow milk, Rey work out what she Needs To Do, Rose and Finn ride Last-Guardian-Horses and listen to the cinema-goers erupt as Light and Dark take on Snoke’s Red Samurai Brigade. The hyperspace jump through an entire fleet blew my mind and then, shortly after, Ghost Luke embarrassed the entire First Order, the film ended and I tried to catch my breath.

The second time through, you know all the twists and turns on that rollercoaster. You're aware of what's going to happen and you take notice. Is the rollercoaster less thrilling the second time around? To a degree, but it makes one thing painfully obvious:

The Last Jedi is one huge fake-out.

Scene after scene, the events that take place are constantly undone by the next thing that takes place, bringing the entire film back to square one, that apex at the top of the rollercoaster's first hill.

Let's start with the dreadnought attack that kicks off the movie. Resistance gunner Paige Tico falls off the bridge and fails to release the bombs that will take down the enemy ship. Fake-out! She kicks the ladder and manages to dislodge the detonator - except it hurtles straight past her into the void. Double Fake-out! She catches it out of the air at the last second.

This happens in almost every narrative thread.

Leia dies, floats off into the vacuum of space and then Mary Poppins her way back to the ship with her Jedi powers. Fake-out! She lives!

Rose and Finn visit the casino at Canto Bight, find the 'Master Codebreaker' but then get arrested and can't get back to him - so they find another Codebreaker - who seems a little dodgy but helps them get into Snoke's ship. Of course, then he betrays them. Fake-out! The codebreaker was a bad dude all along!

Luke and Kylo Ren's story gets three separate flashbacks about the Jedi Academy, but each time the story is told, it changes slightly. It attempts to make Kylo appear like there's goodness within him. We only get the full reveal about the two of them at the end of the Second Act. Fake-out! Kylo is a bad dude!

The entire arc about Rey's parents, including Rey's trip into the Seaweed-hole and her psychedelic trip with the Mirror of Erised to finally reveal who they are. Fake-out! They're nobodies and Rey is just great with the Force!

You can even take the Chewbacca roasting Porgs scene and apply this logic. Chewie roasts the chicken-like Porg and is ready to eat. The audience laughs but a teary-eyed Porg tries to convince him to keep his teeth off the succulent, tiny bird. He scares the Porg off and gets ready to tuck in. Fake-out! Chewie does not eat the Porg!

All the Resistance ships are invisible to Snoke's ship and are going to escape their carrier vessel where Admiral Holdo is stationed. Moments later, aboard Snoke's ship, Hux finds out the Resistance are escaping, so orders his crew to focus fire on all the escaping ships instead of Admiral Holdo's carrier. The Resistance won't survive! Fake-out! Holdo can take her carrier to lightspeed and cut Snoke's ship in half and save everyone!

In the end, the Resistance have once again defeated and escaped the First Order, just like at the end of The Force Awakens.

I could carry on, but you get it.

Is that to say it's bad? No - but with repeat viewings, it becomes obvious that the film exists because it has to exist. Not because it has something grand to say about Star Wars or the Force or War or Good vs Evil or the Dark Side or parenting or sci-fi films or really anything of substance. It's stylish, accessible, humorous entertainment. It's a joyride through the Star Wars universe with Star Wars characters.

It's a great action film with gaping plot holes you can look past because you're ALL IN with what's happening in each scene. Each turn, twist, set-piece. Each time that turn, twist, set-piece gets undone.

It exists to get the rollercoaster from that first hill to its centrepiece - Episode IX, the loop-de-loop - the reason that you immediately want to line-up and do the whole thing again.

The Last Jedi will not hold up as time goes on, but whatever.

It's still way better than the dumb prequels.

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Comments

    I absolutely take your point, but given that one of the original inspirations for Star Wars was the old Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers series from the 30s and 40s, where a weekly cliffhanger was undone by the next week's opening, it seemed right to me.

    Last edited 18/12/17 10:31 am

      Absolutely solid point! I don't mind that the Force Awakens set-up has been undone (happy with that, to be honest) but I do kind of think Johnson just went one too many - ah-ha! gotcha again! - moments.

        I will have to see the movie a couple more times to make my mind up.

        Alas :)

    The most jarring thing for me was some of the language and the way things were said sarcastically / ironically...

    I mean, saying "god-speed rebels" makes NO bloody sense when "god/s" have never been mentioned in any of the movies... the etymology of the word just doesn't exist.

    Luke popping down the cliffs to milk the weird animals was oddly gross and with odd innuendo...

      One hesitates to invoke him as any sort of authority, but Jar Jar did say that his adherence to Qui-Gon was "demanded by the gods ... " So, local or planetary deities may indeed be a Thing, and some of the denizens of GFFA may have gods, which might allow for the etymology.

      I agree it was jarring, but "Force-speed" wouldn't have made any sense ... I'd have gone with good luck, or similar ...

      I helped my grandfather milk cows as a wee thing, so seeing really, really fresh blue milk wasn't gross to me; has to come from somewhere, right? Though why you'd bother spear fishing when there are all those tasty, tasty porgs around is more of a mystery.

        Lordy... Jar Jar... how dare you! haha

        Yeah I grew up on a farm and occasionally hand milked... it was more the noises the animals made and the way they looked at Rey as if she was intruding on something private.

        Maybe Luke went Pescetarian? There's enough other weirdness in the film that it would be believable!

          Holy shit, hadn't even thought about Luke's diet but now....

    I felt this at it's worst with the Resistance stuff. They just kept on getting wiped out. I'm guessing there was a Rogue One influence there but they overplayed the card. I think it was the initial fight, after the jump, getting out of range, the fleeing ships, inside the base/fighting out front and then escaping the base. You can't kill them all at the start of every one of those fights and expect me to feel anything by the end.

    I sort of feel bad for Last Jedi though. It was forced to spend a bunch of time dealing with Abrams stupid mystery boxes. Some of the early scenes seemed like they existed just for one or two lines that put Force Awakened stuff to bed.

      I agree with the mystery box thing. That's JJ's bread and butter. He can't be doing that with Episode IX.

    The problem with the slow space chase is you know The First Order are not going to destroy all the rebels. They're going to find a way to escape. Even the fact they are down to like 12 people doesn't matter because all the ones you know survived. Also, does anyone actually think or feel that's all the rebels?

    There's so many more interesting things they could have done. Leia and the Rebels should have gone to a populated and powerful system to get help. There's so many interesting things you can do with that. You can do the rich don't care, the final show down inspiring the lower classes. They can accuse Leia and the rebels of bringing the war to them. You could get further into what the first order is, how people view them and the empire.

    Nope slow space chase. Nothing makes sense, like why not just have all the ships jump to different places. If they establish only one ship is tracking, split up to rejoin latter. Some will survive.

      That's the kind of plot line they've been going with in things like Star Wars Rebels (still the best SW property since Disney took over. Dont @ me.)

    So if there was plot holes all over the place , how is better than the prequels? Hey had a solid storyline and structure unlike last Jedi. Prequels had heir issues , it cmon people get over yourself . Is is the in thing to back the prequels ?

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