"DID you know that wasn't me?"
It is one of numerous memorable lines uttered by the android, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), in "Rogue One: A 'Star Wars' Story" and the primary reason I pronounced the film amusing when asked my impressions by a colleague.
That colleague, I and the few other souls at a screening of the film a few days ago, I wager, are among the vast minority in the United States that had not seen it.
"Rogue One" is set immediately before the original "Star Wars," "A New Hope." It opens today in China. It opened several weeks ago in the United States and other countries. The film has made a gazillion dollars.
"Rogue One" is also the name of the ship that necessity dictates be parted from its rightful, reluctant Imperial owners. It is needed to transport the rebels/terrorists/freedom fighters to the planet housing a weapon of mass destruction known as the Death Star. Not surprisingly, it has the power to destroy an entire planet.
It was built under protest by Galen Erso Mads Mikkelsen, the research scientist father of Jyn (Felicity Jones), the female protagonist of "Rogue One." In an act of defiance, Galen embeds a defect that can disarm the Death Star.
The film is an account of a motley crew's – led by rebel captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and including K-2SO and Jyn – efforts to disarm/destroy the weapon. I don't give anything away by saying the mission is successful.
Though I am predisposed to like "Star Wars" and all of its sequels and anthologies, I had only seen the original and "Return of the Jedi" before "Rogue One." To that end, I viewed the latter as a standalone film. It is on this basis that I find it amusing, thanks mainly to two characters. The aforementioned K-S2O and that of the warrior, Chirrut (China's leading action star, Donnie Yen).
Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) are brothers in arms in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.
Chirrut is a marvel. How anyone can perform the death-defying feats he does is indeed – to invoke a much overused word – amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! Or, because he is blind, all can be explained by his mantra: "I am with the Force and the Force is with me."
But it is K-2 who has the best lines in the film and steals the show. A bald, black, brilliant gangly affair more than 7 feet tall, he is patterned in part on Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in ferocity and as a sort of protege to Cassian as Chewbacca is to Han Solo (Harrison Ford). If you, like me, are such a one who prefers a little bit more dialogue, however, you will yearn for the merest utterances from K-2.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, "Rogue One" is almost wall-to-wall action. My estimate is that it is 94 percent action and 6 percent dialogue. Quite spectacular action really. And inspired sets.
Of course, the "Star Wars" movies are known for their engaging androids. Yet K-2 has a certain je nais sais quoi. Further, because there is such a vast difference in the action-to-dialogue ratio in "Rogue One," when anyone talks, especially K-2, you will listen.
His best line is something like, "I just rescued you." It comes after he gives Jyn a smackdown, a lightning-quick response to her escape attempt from the captors who will soon become her allies. It is really quite funny.
The occasions on which he discloses the percentage probability of success or failure of any given element of the mission are usually smirk-worthy.
When K-2 calculates the probability of the crew surviving in space in the event of a crash, he asserts matter-of-factly to the cabin at-large that no one will survive, "except for me. I can survive in space."
It is he who commanded my attention during the film. K-S2's observations were something to look forward to; a respite from the monotony of the action sequences.
"Rogue One" does end on a surprising note, which is especially relevant now. I won't give it away, except to say it has nothing to do with K-2 and is of royal proportions.
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action; visit www.starwars.com/rogue-one/ to learn more about the film.