While “The Rise of Skywalker” is jam-packed with action sequences, where it stumbles is in the storytelling department. With this latest instalment, J.J. Abrams is more concerned with getting from one action sequence to another at a breakneck speed rather than telling a cohesive story. The film consists of a collage of scenes that are strung together without a cohesive narrative. The screenplay is sloppily written, and arguably the film’s primary weakness. Filled with underdeveloped characters, unearned emotional moments and a rushed plot, the script detracts from the movie’s quality. While certain characters get the closure that they deserve, others are not given enough screen-time to shine. For instance, Rey is the only character that is given a satisfying closure. J.J. Abrams chooses to emphasize mindless spectacle over storytelling, an approach that doesn’t entirely work. Star Wars has always been first and foremost about engaging storytelling, and this is where “The Rise of Skywalker” falls short of its predecessors.
Thankfully, though, the fantastic performances from the cast keep this blockbuster from falling apart. Every actor gets the chance to shine and showcase their commitment to the franchise, but the most notable standout is the leading star.
Daisy Ridley delivers her finest performance to date as Rey. Reprising the iconic role for the third time, Ridley imbues the character with warmth, strength and humility. With captivating expressions, she brings out an emotional and vulnerable side to the character that we’ve never seen before. If Rey was portrayed as an invincible superhuman in previous films, this time Ridley brings emotional depth and nuance to the character. It is not easy to bring closure to a character’s arc in the Star Wars universe, but Ridley pulls it off effortlessly. It’s a powerful performance that serves as a fitting farewell to the beloved character.
The supporting cast is superb and seems delighted to return to the franchise. Oscar Isaac is excellent and steals nearly every scene he is in as Poe. Adam Driver is amazing as Kylo Ren and brings emotional depth to the villainous character. And finally, it is hard to not mention John Boyega. As usual, he brings hilarious comical relief and persona to these films.
Although “The Rise of Skywalker” is undeniably entertaining, ultimately it is not a film without flaws. Aside from the aforementioned disjointed storytelling, another downside to the movie is its length. At nearly two and a half hours, it is slightly long and suffers from a bloated running-time. With the help of John Williams’ timeless score, J.J. Abrams keeps the film moving at a breakneck pace during the first hour. However, once the film enters its action-packed finale, it starts to lose steam and test the viewer’s patience. The result is a movie that leaves viewers entertained but at the same time exhausted. Due to its lengthy running-time, “The Rise of Skywalker” isn’t quite on par with previous films in the franchise.
In the end, “The Rise of Skywalker” is a well-made blockbuster that soars but not high enough to meet the expectations of fans awaiting greatness. As a long-time fan of the franchise, I must admit that this movie left me slightly disappointed. If this truly is the end of the Skywalker saga after 42 years of filmmaking, it’s a bit of an underwhelming note to go out on.