01:30:01 – 01:45:00
As this chapter of the Rogue Edition of the 15-Minute Force kicks off, our roguish heroes have disembarked on the Caribbean nation of Scarif in order to find the schematics for the Empire’s planet-killing weapon/space station, the Death Star. The team has split up. Captain Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso and Alan Tudyk—I mean, K-2—are heading for Citadel Tower on the monorail, while a Delta Force-style team, led by Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, larps through the tropical jungle. Bodhi Rook remains with the ship, engines idling.
Before our heroes get there, Imperial Director Orson Krennic’s shuttle arrives at the tower (which reminds me of Orthanc more than a little, though it’s doubtful we’ll revive Christopher Lee for another movie).
Cassian, Jyn and K-2 arrive moments later. Their rudimentary plan? Find the schematics for the Death Star. The interior of the spacious Citadel Tower is full of white-clad stormtroopers, gray-clad Imperial officers with their funny little hats, and at least one black-clad Imperial guy with a giant shiny black helmet. I’m not sure what function Giant-Shiny-Black-Helmet guy serves, but we’ve seen his type before. We also pass another tall imperial droid who looks like K-2. Also what appears to be a black protocol droid with an insectoid head and, in the distance, a dark R-2 unit. Yay! Star Wars background stuff!
We smash-cut to a Star Wars favorite: the view through a pair of binoculars. Then we see one of the Rogue One guys passing out things that look like grenades to the others, saying he will call the timing. For some reason, I’m thinking this guy is Bodhi Rook, but that can’t be correct, can it? Isn’t he still in the ship?
In view of the Tower, past tall palm trees, we see two stormtroopers walking past, and hear this exchange:
“Hey, did you hear the rumors?”
“Yeah. The T-15s have been marked obsolete.”
“Oh boy, it’s about time for that.”
As I recall, Luke Skywalker used to shoot womp rats from his T-16. I believe this was an Easter Egg for nerdy fanboys like me. I wonder if this exchange was in the script or something added in post-production.
The stormtrooper conversation is cut short by Chirrut Imwe’s sudden appearance, twirling his bo staff like a mutant ninja turtle. A quick sequence follows, showing Baze Malbus taking a stormtrooper out of commission, all the while wearing an ElectroLux cannister vacuum cleaner on his back, and then various Rogue One soldiers whose names I don’t know (but one I refer to in my head as Squishy Face) planting what I mistook for grenades but which are obviously timed explosive devices of a different nature in various strategic locations. The Rogue One Delta Force squad move both themselves and the plot forward.
In the next scene, Director Krennic enters some high, dark chamber in the Tower, where he is greeted by someone I assume is General Ramda, who was mentioned in an earlier scene. I notice that Krennic’s white cape looks very wrinkled. Was this an on-set wardrobe malfunction, or is this meant to represent the decompensating mental condition of the character? Or is this minutiae not meant to be examined so closely?
Krennic orders this guy, who may or may not be General Ramda, to gather every dispatch and transmission sent by Galen Erso for inspection.
“All of them?” General Ramda asks, incredulously. And, yes, this time my closed-captioning confirms that this is, indeed, Ramda.
Cut to, Jyn and Cassian standing watch while K-2 jacks into the base of the skull of another Imperial droid who looks like him. This shot is cool, because the whole plug-into-port situation looks like every hole plugged by R2-D2 in the saga. I assume that K-2 is mind-raping his doppleganger, gathering information they need about the layout of the Citadel Tower or the location of the Secret Imperial Plans archive. This is a very on-the-fly Star Wars thing to do.
Meanwhile, the other Rogue One soldiers get into cover behind conveniently placed giant metal objects, taking flanking positions outside of a giant pair of doors. In my head, I’m pressing buttons on my PS4 control to get them in the right spots.
Return to our Inside-the-Tower Trio. K-2 says, “Our optimal route to the data vault places only 89 stormtroopers in our path. We will make it no more than 33% of the way before we are killed.” Which would have been the perfect time for someone to say, “Never tell me the odds!” No one does. This movie leaves a lot of the obvious lines on the cutting-room floor.
Cassian gets on his comm and talks to one of the soldiers outside the Tower. His name is Melshi, and he’s the guy I thought might be Bodhi Rook earlier. Seriously, all of these guys look similar enough to be brothers.
With a nod of assent from Jyn, Cassian gives the order to “Light it up.”
All of the previously planted devices begin exploding, taking out any of the stormtroopers within range. We cut to the Tower room where Krennic stands, watching the explosions from the windows. Krennic turns angrily to the Imperial officers gathered around him and shouts, “Are we blind? Deploy the garrison!”
All throughout the tower, stormtroopers are double-timing it. A squad passes our stalwart trio without a second glance in their direction. The diversionary tactics are working wonderfully, it seems.
Outside the giant Tower doors we saw earlier, the concealed Rogue One squad catches the stormtroopers in their crossfire as the doors open. It is open season on white-armored Imperial soldiers.
Cut to: an establishing shot of the Death Star, a few TIE fighters zipping across the screen out in space, where no one can hear you scream but everyone can hear the scream of TIE fighter engines.
Inside, General Romodi tells Grand Moff Tarkin that there are reports of a Rebel incursion at Scarif. Tarkin says he wants to speak with Director Krennic, and Romodi tells Tarkin that Krennic is there, on Scarif.
Tarkin says, “The original plans for this station are kept there, are they not?”
To which Romodi replies that they are. Tarkin tells Romodi to prepare for the jump into hyperspace and to inform Lord Vader.
Back on Yavin-4, the Rebel Alliance finds out about the Rebels on Scarif. When Mon Mothma is told that Admiral Raddus has returned to his ship and is going to fight, she smiles. Mon Mothma is a hawk, not a dove.
Outside the Tower doors, the firefight with the stormtroopers doesn’t seem to be going all that well for our Rogue One squad.
Back to Yavin-4: X-wings are being fueled and prepped for battle while orange flight-suited rebel pilots run around. Familiar John Williams Star Wars music begin to play as a voice on the PA system says “May the Force be with you” to the scrambling pilots. And, suddenly, there’s a brief shot of C-3PO and R2-D2, with the ever-fussy protocol droid complaining that no one told him anything about going to Scarif.
The battle continues on Scarif. Bodhi Rook begins sending false distress calls to misdirect the Imperial soldiers. Director Krennic seems a bit stressed as he watches from his Tower window. Inside, Cassian and Jyn gain entry to the archives. Lots of smash-cuts and quick edits. Exciting stuff here.
Outside the Tower, as AT-ATs begin to approach their position, Chirrut Imwe tells Baze Malbus to run. And suddenly all of the Rogue One squad seems to be in full retreat. I don’t blame them. The AT-ATs seem especially formidable in this movie. Genuinely frightening in a way they have never seemed to me before. They appear so solid and massive as they tramp through the palm trees that it’s even difficult to imagine a lone snowspeeder taking one down with a tow cable.
By the way, even though I may never have said the word “AT-AT” aloud, in my head I’ve always pronounced it “at”-”at” and not “80-80” as I’ve sometimes heard it. At least on the occasions I haven’t just thought the words “Imperial walker” instead.
Full John Williams musical score as the Rebels drop out of hyperspace above Scarif. The character I mistook for Admiral Ackbar earlier is actually Admiral Raddus (my apologies to Mon Calamari everywhere: I’m taking racial sensitivity training). Then we have that familiar Star Wars trope of cockpit shots as Gold, Blue and Red leaders report that they are standing by.
In the frenetic events that follow, most of Blue Squadron makes it through the shield gate before it is closed up. Most, but not all. R.I.P., dead Blue Squadron pilots.
Inside, K-2 reports to Jyn and Cassian that the Rebel fleet has arrived. The two seem genuinely surprised. They also find out that they are trapped inside since the base is locked down and the shield gate is closed. K-2 suggests that they could transmit the plans to the rebel fleet, but they will have to inform the Rebels that it’s coming and someone would have to take the shield gate down so that a file of that size could be transmitted.
Cassian contacts Bodhi Rook on his comm. He says Bodhi must find a way to get a message to the fleet that a hole must be opened in the shield gate. Bodhi says he’s not connected to their comm system and the base is locked down, but Cassian is insistent that he improvise. Just do it, as Nike commands us all.
Cassian orders K-2 to cover their backs, and Jyn gives the droid a blaster, which pleases K-2 and raises his opinion of Jyn.
Outside, on the beach, impressive shots of AT-ATs tramping through the surf and firing upon fleeing Rogue One soldiers. Baze Malbus fires upon one of the walkers with a bazooka, which has little effect. It seems like our heroes are about to be wiped out by the next volley of shots from the AT-AT until they are saved, at least temporarily, by the sudden appearance of Blue Squadron. The cavalry, it seems, has arrived.
Back at the Rogue One ship, Bodhi Rook is ordering around the few men who were left with him, something about patching a connection through to the comm tower and one of them locating a master switch. Blah, blah, technobabble, blah. So, while the battle continues to rage on around them, Bodhi’s team will try to get a call through to the Rebel fleet. Got it.
On the outside of the planetary shield, Admiral Raddus-not-Ackbar is ordering his forces to engage the Imperial Star Destroyers that have arrived while continuing to probe the shield gate.
Inside the shield, back on the beach, we find out that, with the involvement of Blue Squadron, AT-ATs can be taken down without tow cables.
Back inside the Tower, Jyn and Cassian enter the archive, where Cassian has to operate some sort of giant claw machine arcade game to find the data tape. K-2 closes them inside the vault as stormtroopers arrive. The repurposed droid attempts to misdirect the stormtroopers verbally, but, failing that, picks one of them up and beats the other two to death or unconsciousness with their buddy. A fourth stormtrooper shoots K-2 in the back, but K-2 swivels around and kills that one with the blaster Jyn gave him.
Above the planet, Red Squadron is engaging the Star Destroyers while Gold Squadron begins its attack run on the shield gate. The space battle action is fast and furious. Suddenly, TIE fighters appear on the scene, like a huge swarm of angry wasps.
One of Bodhi’s guys contacts Melshi on the ground squad, telling him he has to locate a master switch on the base of the Tower so that Bodhi can get a message through to the Rebel fleet. Melshi wants to know what the switch looks like. I do, too.
One of the Blue Squadron U-wings drops down to provide reinforcements for the Rogue One soldiers pinned down on the beach. Fresh Rebel troops pour out onto the beach.
And that, my friends, is where this chapter of the Rogue Edition of 15-Minute Force abruptly ends, in mid-battle. This is exciting stuff. The action of this chapter has convinced me that Act 3 did, in fact, begin back on Yavin-4 when the Rogue One squad was formed. The action has been nonstop since Jyn’s grand speech. I remember reading somewhere, before this movie was released, that it was a more of a Star Wars war movie. This sequence ably demonstrates that. It’s like a science-fantasy version of that impressive opening scene in Saving Private Ryan.
Anyway, I’m pumped for the next chapter. According to the counter on my DVD player, we still have nearly 29 minutes of movie left. Whether that’s one chapter or two depends upon where the credits begin. A movie like this probably has at least five-minutes of credits. I’m guessing two chapters.
Until next time . . . When You’re a Part of the Rebel Alliance, The Best Course of Action is Always to Infiltrate an Imperial Stronghold and Steal Secret Plans. . .And May The 15-Minute Force Be With You