Soon after the destruction of the Starkiller base by the Resistance, General Leia Organa leads the evacuation of their forces before the oncoming First Order Fleet. Against her orders, impulsive Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) leads an attack that destroys a First Order Dreadnaught, but at the cost of many lives. The remaining Resistance escapes into hyperspace, but they are tracked by the First Order and attacked again and again.
Kylo Ren hesitates to fire on General Organa’s ship because she is his mother, but the rest of his attack force destroys the bridge, killing the leaders of the Resistance. Leia is blown into space, but the Force saves her. As she recovers, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) assumes command. They are desperate, running out of fuel, and she immediately clashes with Poe Dameron.
On the planet Ahch-To, Rey (Daisy Rider) is trying to bring Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) back to the Resistance from his self-imposed exile. He believes the Jedi Order has failed and refuses to help. After encouragement from R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee, because Kenny Baker died the year before), he agrees to give Rey three lessons in the Ways of the Force. Rey and Kylo find themselves communicating telepathically. Kylo tells Rey that Luke feared his power and tried to kill him, Luke confesses that he almost killed Kylo as he sensed Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) gaining power over his mind. Believing that Kylo can be redeemed, Rey leaves. Luke hesitates before destroying the Jedi Order’s sacred texts, but the spirit of Luke’s master Yoda (Frank Oz) appears and destroys the library with lightning, so the Jedi might begin again.
Poe entrusts Finn (John Boyega), Rose Tico the mechanic (Kelly Marie Tran), and robot BB-8 with a plan to de-activate the First Order’s hyperspace tracking device. Pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) sends them to the casino town of Canto Bight, where they find a hacker named D.J. (Benicio del Toro). Pursued by security, they escape the city with the help of stable hand children as they set the equine fathiers free. Finn, Rose, and D.J. infiltrate Snoke’s flagship, but are captured by Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Kylo brings Rey to Snoke, who reveals that he connected their minds to find Luke.
Holdo plans to evacuate the rest of the Resistance using small transports. Poe disagrees and stages a mutiny. Leia recovers and stuns him. The evacuation proceeds. Holdo remains behind on the ship to mislead Snoke’s fleet as the others flee to a fortified base on the planet Crait. D.J. buys his freedom by revealing the Resistance plans to General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and the First Order fires on the evacuating transport ships.
Kylo is ordered to kill Rey but kills Snoke instead and, with her help, defeats the Pretorian Guard. She hopes he has abandoned the Dark Side, but he asks her to Rule the Galaxy with him. She battles him for control of Luke’s lightsabre, bisecting the weapon. Holdo sacrifices herself by slicing through Snoke’s flagship at lightspeed, crippling the First Order Fleet. Rey escapes the destruction. Kylo declares himself Supreme Leader.
BB-8 frees Finn and Rose. They defeat Phasma and join the survivors on Crait, behind the blast doors of their cave-base. When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose attack the battering-ram device with all they have—obsolete speeders. Rey and Chewie appear in the Millennium Falcon and the TIE fighters attack. Rose stops Finn from sacrificing himself, telling him that the Resistance wins not by who they kill, but who they save.
The First Order penetrates the Resistance fortress, but Luke appears and confronts them, allowing the Resistance fighters to escape. Kylo orders the Walkers to fire on Luke’s position, when the smoke clears, he’s still standing. Then Kylo engages Luke in a lightsabre duel, discovering that Luke is not physically present, but projecting his image from afar. As Rey helps the last Resistance fighters to escape on the Falcon, meeting Poe for the first time, an exhausted Luke Skywalker dies peacefully on his island. Rey and Leia both sense his death. Leia says the Resistance can rise again, and the stable hands of Canto Bight recount the legend of Luke Skywalker. One of them can move objects with his mind, proving that one does not need to inherit the Force from Queenly or Lordly ancestors; it can arise anywhere. Anakin was a slave and Rey was sold by her scavenger parents for booze money, according to Kylo Ren.
This one was directed by Rian Johnson instead of J.J. Abrams. It is the longest Star Wars film at 152 minutes, but it had been cut down from three hours. The writers watched Twelve O’clock High, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gunga Din, Three Outlaw Samurai, Sahara, and Letter Never Sent for inspiration. The team went back to the original Yoda puppet to make one for The Last Jedi, using the original molds, the original paint, and much input from Frank Oz. The Canto Bight casino is very like Monaco as it appears in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. In Canto Bight, Finn and Rose are arrested for committing Parking Violation 17B/6, which comes from Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil. This was the only film in the Saga in which nobody says, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Joonas Suotamo played Chewbacca instead of Peter Mayhew, who was suffering from chronic pain at 73 and was credited as a Chewbacca consultant. Warwick Davis plays Wodibin. Marc Hamill’s children Chelsea, Nathan, and Griffin play Resistance soldiers, while Prince William and Prince Harry played stormtroopers. Daisy Ridley seems to be a bit of a Jedi herself; her lightsabre movements usually take three days to learn and she did it in one and a half hours. Gwendoline Christie was trained in sword-fighting by C.C. Smiff, who had trained her for Game of Thrones. Joaquin Phoenix turned down the Benicio del Toro role of J.B., so-called because his mantra was Don’t Join.
Kelly Marie Tran did not tell anyone what movie she was in. She said it was an Indie film in Canada, and even bought some maple syrup to prove it. Luke’s island of solitude is played by Skellig Michael, the site of a monastery built sometime between the 6th and 8th Centuries. The island was full of puffins and because it was illegal to move them in a protected area, the director decided to CGI over them with the alien Porg creatures, who were described as the opposite of a platypus—an otter’s face on a duck’s body. There are subtle giveaways that Luke is a projection as he battles Kylo Ren and not really present. He leaves no footprints in the salt-over-red-soil surface, and you don’t hear his steps. Also, his lightsabre no longer existed. The strain of this Force projection kills him. Ahch-To is in a binary system and Luke dies watching the double suns as he did on Tatooine as a boy.
The film received good reviews, even from George Lucas, though not much love from Mark Hamill, who basically disapproved of everything he had to do. Reviews on websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic were less favourable, though some thought Internet trolls were responsible. Some said it was “too progressive” which makes one wonder if they had seen any other Star Wars movies. There were complaints of too many female characters. After the death of Carrie Fisher, the filmmakers were quick to issue statements that they had not used CGI for the role of General Leia Organa. The Last Jedi, incidentally, is plural.