Solo: A Star Wars Story (or simply Solo) is a 2018 American space Western film based on the Star Wars character Han Solo. Directed by Ron Howard, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the second Star Wars anthology film following Rogue One (2016). Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo alongside Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany. The plot takes place approximately ten years prior to the events of A New Hope, and explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who join a heist within the criminal underworld.
When you look at it one way, it’s a movie about when Hanny Met Cheewy! LOL, I could not resist. Anyway, what’s with the prequels that is bogging down scifi these past few years. Lovers Han & Qi’ra who grew up together as orphans on Coreilla, escape from the clutches of a local gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with stolen coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his surname, Han says he is alone with no family, so the recruiter gives him the last name “Solo”. 3 years later, due to insubordination he is now an infantry man fighting on Minban.
He meets conmen & smugglers Tobias Beckett, his wife Val & Rio Durant who are posing as soldiers and he is dumped into a pit to be eaten by a beast when he almost rats them out. The beast turns out to be Chewbacca (who eats humans apparently) and he speaks in Woookie language to join forced and escape. Beckett, impressed by Han’s resilience, lets the two on board and enlists them in the gang to steal a shipment of coaxium on Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up, led by Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife Val, and the destruction of the coaxium. Knowing his bDryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’ yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and is Vos’ top lieutenant.
Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits. After reaching Kessel in the Millennium Falcon and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. In the confusion, they steal the coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship through the dangerous and uncharted Kessel Run to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.
Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’ strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’ superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’ position. She avoids speaking of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.
Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him, shooting Beckett before he can return fire. With his dying words Beckett tells Han he made a smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys, who then offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him a vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a job.
Altogether it felt like a movie put together to show “hey, here is where Han got the Falcon, here is where he met Lando and how Chewbacca became his side-kick”. High praise for Woody, who is always good, and Emilia Clarke who is awesome too in her role. 7 outta 10!