Warning – there be spoilers aplenty in the following report so if you STILL haven’t seen STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, stop reading now ladies and gents (or just carry on regardless…Go on, you know you want to…).
One of the key parts of THE LAST JEDI that has really divided fans has been the portrayal of Luke Skywalker, who at one time was the beacon of hope and strength in the galaxy but has been reduced to a reclusive hermit in Rian Johnson’s latest installment.
In my opinion it really worked and was a fresh way of looking at how time can change a person and how their actions and path in life does not always have to go the obvious route. I mean, sure, it would have been great to see Luke brought back as an old ass-kicking Jedi who’s just been hiding away until needed and once that call comes he’s ready and willing to dust off his old ‘laser sword’ and kick some Sith ass. But that’s not the way things go in THE LAST JEDI and the movie is all the more rich for it.
One person who appears to agree is a guy who has worked closely with Rian Johnson before, Joseph Gordon-Levitt who has penned a fairly lengthy defense of the film on Medium. Have a read through his thoughts on the movie:
“The Luke Skywalker we meet in The Last Jedi is very different than the Luke Skywalker we remember from the original Star Wars movies. In the past, Luke was hopeful, an idealist, deeply driven to venture out into the galaxy, find his destiny, and do the right thing, no matter the cost. Now he’s apathetic, cynical even, hunkered down on an island and seemingly passionate about nothing but his own isolation. He’s wasting his talents on an eccentric day-to-day routine of laughable animal husbandry and death-defying spearfishing. When a young potential Jedi with profound aptitude, Rey, comes to find him seeking a mentor, he literally tosses her lightsaber over his shoulder into the dirt. And later, when facing said youngster in combat, he ends up on his knees, defeated.
And even worse than becoming personally weird and physically weak, he’s become morally questionable. The plot hinges on a moment from the recent past where Luke contemplates killing Ben Solo, his own nephew, in his sleep, sensing the young man’s attraction to the dark side of the Force, and fearful of the damage he might cause. I saw the point made several times that decades earlier, in Return of the Jedi, Luke is so righteous, so forgiving, he even refuses to kill the reprehensibly villainous Darth Vader. Clearly this is an enormous departure.
Think about how rare this is. A trilogy of movies is made with a young protagonist played by an actor in his 20s. Then, no fewer than 40 YEARS LATER (A New Hope came out in 1977) this actor gets to play the same character as an older man. I don’t know how many times that has ever happened in the history of movies. Has it ever happened? In the glaring contrast between the Luke of old and the new Old Luke, The Last Jedi offers a uniquely fascinating portrayal of a man’s life marching inescapably forward.
Speaking as an actor, when I’m considering whether or not I want to play a certain character, I’m always looking for a healthy balance of virtues and shortcomings. Otherwise, it doesn’t feel real. No one is a perfect hero or a perfect villain, we’re more complicated than that, every one of us. Flawless characters feel thin. And forgive me if I blaspheme, but the young Luke Skywalker always did feel just a little light to me, which is why it was so cool this time around to see him fill out into a more imperfect human being.
A flawed main character is one of the main distinctions between a story with substance and a gratuitous spectacle. It’s often through a character overcoming their flaws that a movie can really say something. Yes, when the movie begins, Luke has grown cynical. He’s lost faith in what it means to be a Jedi. He’s let fear of the Dark Side of the Force corner him into isolation and inaction. But he needs to start there, so that he can overcome this grave deficit.”
How do you feel THE LAST JEDI approached Luke’s character? Strike back below with your thoughts…