A filmmaker’s job can be explained quite precisely and in surprisingly short order: tell a good story well. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story provides an excellent example of a very good story mostly told well.

Rogue One has all the elements of a fantastic tale. A band of rebels trying to free themselves and their galaxy from despotic rulers. A brilliant scientist, fighting and lying in order to avoid hurting the ones he loves. An impulsive pilot with a questionable moral compass. And in the middle of all this, the scientist’s daughter: smart, strong, alone, and bitter enough to reject any idea of joining the rebellion.

This is Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso—but she’d rather not claim any of that legacy, because the prospect of her father being dead seems much easier to handle than the idea of him betraying her. But if Jyn had any hopes of avoiding betrayal, she picked the wrong story to star in: Rogue One is rife with treason and trust issues.

Take the pilot, for example. He is Captain Cassian Andor, and his work tends to require large amounts of lying, backstabbing, and outright murder. From the very start, he shows himself to be less than trustworthy; much of his ensuing story revolves around his goal of regaining a sense of integrity. “I couldn't face myself if I gave up now,” he tells Jyn, exposing the fact that he's lost faith even in himself. This story is as much about finding redemption and fighting for trust as it is about finding Death Star plans and fighting the Empire. And that's what makes it good.

But if a story is good, it can still be let down by less-than-stellar delivery. Unfortunately, Rogue One is a bit too predictable. Dialogue riddled with recycled phrasing and tired clichés displays a lack of imagination in both the script's writers and in the actors who deliver their given lines. Regrettably, this predictability shows up not only in words spoken but in characters’ actions and reactions as well, resulting in a story that's far too easy to anticipate. It’s as if Rogue One wants to explore past its tested boundaries, but doesn’t quite have the courage.

But for all its predictability, Rogue One is a film worth watching. At its heart, it’s the story of people finding their trust for each other, fighting to protect others, and reconciling relationships that were broken. And that makes this small rebellion a worthy cause. (Disney)

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Janelle Haegert