***½/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk
screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy
directed by Gareth Edwards
by Walter Chaw A deep cut for Star Wars fanatics, Gareth Edwards's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also happens to be the single most topical fiction of 2016, talking as it does--in bold, melodramatic strokes befitting a space opera--about the importance of rebellion in the face of fascism. "Order," says Empirical stooge Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). "Terror," corrects brilliant weapons engineer Galen (Mads Mikkelsen). And the representative of the fascist regime smiles, as though it were all just a matter of semantics, this idea that terror and order are opposite sides of the same devalued coin. He's engaged in a kind of political double-speak, in gaslighting--things that until this year were the scourge of banana republics and other backwards backwaters. The Empire that Krennic represents needs Galen to help them complete their Death Star superweapon, with the '80s-era Reagan/Thatcher rationale that overwhelming destructive deterrents are the only way to truly keep the peace. Galen is compelled to cooperate to keep his daughter, Jyn (Felicity Jones), safe and anonymous in the protection of violent revolutionary Saw (Forest Whitaker). The rest is Jyn's quest to clear her father's name by stealing plans for the Death Star and delivering them to a fractured resistance that isn't entirely sure if it wouldn't be a good idea to give the Empire a chance. You know, maybe they won't do all the things they said they were going to do?