15:01 – 30:00
When we last saw our stalwart Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in his Jesus Christ disguise, was hanging from the drone that tried to assassinate Senator Amidala with poison millipedes. He was zipping through air traffic high above Coruscant while Anakin Skywalker boosted a yellow skycar to chase after him.
In the quick cuts that follow, there is a hint of a threat that it might turn as cartoonish as the podrace from Phantom Menace. I think I even saw Muttley again. But, the night traffic above Coruscant is an impressive special effect, and I like it a lot.
The veiled assassin Zam sees Obi-Wan through her special spyglass, then uses a long-barreled rifle to shoot the drone, causing Obi-Wan to fall to his apparent death. Well…it would be apparent if we didn’t already know that Obi-Wan would be around to give Anakin’s son the accelerated Jedi training course.
Anakin’s finely-tuned Jedi senses—which, by the way, only sensed the assassin worms at the last moment—have directed him to a spot where he can catch Obi-Wan in midair freefall. The assassin Zam has, meanwhile, gotten into her own ship.
The Jedi engage in witty repartee as they chase after Zam. Obi-Wan doesn’t like flying, apparently, at least not with Anakin at the controls. And, Anakin thinks he already rivals Master Yoda as a swordsman. You know, the usual Jedi locker room talk.
Zam leads our heroes on a merry chase. As she veers off into a passageway tunnel that leads through a building, Anakin chooses not to follow. He tells Obi-Wan that the way he’s going is a shortcut. He thinks.
When they seem to have lost their quarry, Obi-Wan scolds Anakin for losing the assassin. Anakin replies by leaping out of their vehicle and skydiving without a chute. The Force has once again given him perfect timing, as he hitches a ride with Zam after landing on top of her ship. Forget for a minute that he was in freefall, probably at terminal velocity, whatever that is on Coruscant, and that Zam was traveling at speeds that, I would guess, would be in excess of 100 mph (that’s being conservative). If we apply some sort of physics here, Anakin should be…well, he should be dead, at the very least. Probably in pieces. Even if he had timed his jump and freefall just right.
Here’s where we remind ourselves that this is science-fantasy, not hard science fiction, and we should not be thinking about things as silly as physics or realism. It’s just a show. Relax.
Of course, Anakin is not killed in this stunt. Not yet. Zam tries to shoot him and shake him off of her ship. At this point, this chase scene has been going on for about five minutes. If that seems a bit long to you, just wait. It’s not over yet.
Anakin uses, then loses, his lightsaber. Obi-Wan, who is close behind them, catches it. Trying to wrestle Zam’s pistol out of her hand, Anakin causes her to shoot her own control panel. This causes a sudden and spectacularly un-deadly crash landing back in the Blade Runner district. We now resume the chase on foot. As it begins, I say a silent prayer in hopes that this won’t last another five minutes.
Zam ducks into a club. Obi-Wan parks his ship rather than crashing it and catches up to Anakin outside the club, giving him his lightsaber back, with a bit more scolding on the side.
Says Obi-Wan, to Anakin: “Why do I get the feeling that you’re going to be the death of me?” Hah, irony.
The club seems to be some sort of sports bar. There are video monitors showing various sporting events, including pod racing.
Obi-Wan wants to know if Anakin got a good look at “him.” Anakin says that he thinks it’s a “her” and that she’s a changeling. Obi-Wan orders his Padawan to go and find her while he goes for a drink. I like a Jedi with his priorities straight. While enjoying his drink, Obi-Wan casually uses the Jedi Mind Trick to dissuade a drug dealer from selling him death-sticks.
Obi-Wan’s casual demeanor is a ruse. He ignites his lightsaber and strikes Zam down as she is trying to get the drop on him. Anakin has apparently just been mingling with other club patrons. The Jedi drag her outside the club and question her, wanting to know who hired her to kill the senator. She begins to answer, saying, “It was a bounty hunter called—” when she is struck down with a toxic dart from long range. We get to see our familiarly shaped bounty hunter using his rockets to fly off. But, Obi-Wan has the toxic dart (and a dead assassin). This, children, is what Jedi call a clue.
Quick Star Wars-style wipe to our next scene, in the Jedi Council Chamber. Obi-Wan is ordered to track down this bounty hunter and find out who he’s working for. While Obi-Wan is out playing detective, Yoda wants Anakin to handle the security for Senator Amidala. Yoda is a romantic at heart.
Mace Windu instructs Anakin to escort the senator back to Naboo, where she will be safer, and not to use registered transport. Anakin doesn’t think the senator will leave so easily. He says something about her being the “leader of the opposition.” I’m not sure what that means. Does she oppose the formation of an army? I think I’ve missed something here. That would explain why Darth Sidious might want her dead. Politics give me a headache.
Anyway, Anakin is instructed to go talk to Chancellor Palpatine and ask him to speak to the senator about going back to Naboo.
Then we have a quick scene of Anakin talking to Palpatine. Palpatine says that Senator Amidala won’t ignore an executive order, and he will talk to her about going back to Naboo. Then he continues to chat with Anakin. It’s apparent in their interaction that they’ve had conversations like this before, and Anakin seems to defer to him as a mentor. Palpatine says he sees Anakin becoming a more powerful Jedi than even Master Yoda. The chancellor is in-sidious.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan walks along with Mace Windu and Yoda in his hover sled. Obi-Wan has concerns about his Padawan and doesn’t think he’s ready for this solo assignment. He’s too arrogant. Yoda says that seems to be a common Jedi trait, even among the older and more experienced ones. Sick burn, Yoda. Windu reminds Obi-Wan of the prophecy that suggests Anakin may be the Chosen One who will bring Balance back to the Force.
I suppose this means that the Force is out-of-balance now. Is that right? And, if it is, how is it imbalanced? I can’t follow all of this crazy ancient religious stuff.
Senator Amidala, in a very Leia-like hairstyle, instructs Jar Jar Binks to take her place in the Senate while she’s on an extended leave. As one does. She’s not happy about leaving. She has apparently worked for a year to defeat this Military Creation Act. Ah, that clears some things up. Palpatine wants the army; Padme does not.
Anakin says something about sometimes having to swallow our pride and do what’s requested of us. This causes Amidala to comment that he’s grown up. Then Anakin begins to complain about how Obi-Wan refuses to see that he’s grown up. The complaining takes on a distinct whining quality that makes me begin to dislike Anakin for the first time. Anakin feels like he’s ready for the Trials, that he’s being unfairly held back. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Emo Ani.
As this fifteen-minute segment comes to a close, Anakin is leering at Padme in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable, and she tells him so. There is a darkness in Anakin, it seems…
This chapter of the 15-Minute Force kept me engaged. Lots of action in the beginning, then a series of mercifully quick meetings to set up Obi-Wan’s investigation and Anakin’s escorting of the senator, disguised as refugees, to Naboo.
We are 30 minutes in, and things are in motion. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen this movie. I think I liked it more than the first prequel, but I still don’t think my overall impression of the movie was a positive one. Will it lose me again this time? It hasn’t so far. The chase scene may have been a bit overcooked for my taste, but I have no complaints. In fact, I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Until then…Hang On to Your Lightsabers, and May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.