If you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars then this is NOT the blog post you are looking for and move along to one of the many great, spoiler free blog posts here.
I’ve not been subtle about my live of the film, in fact my two Solo podcasts were just full of adoration, the latest of which can be listened to HERE.
Last week I covered the main characters from the film. This week I will turn my attention to the secondary characters who really made this film what it was, some of whom were taken from us too early.
Firstly, Beckett’s right hand woman, Val, played by Thandie Newton. A hard-case crack shot who doesn’t suffer fools and wants to get paid. She knows her stuff when it comes to blasters and bombs and isn’t afraid to let people know that she’s not afraid to use them.
She has a dry sense of humour from the moment we meet her, when Han mistakes the disguised Beckett for an Imperial Captain, Val can’t hold back the wise-cracking at her partners expense. Her prowess with the blaster is never truly displayed but mentioned whilst her and Beckett are planning to steal the AT-Hauler. She’s more than capable of taking out a number of Imperial troops, and in what would need to be record time to avoid detection. Her hand-to-hand combat skills must be top-notch because when she decides to shoot Han when he figures out that Beckett, Val and Rio are thieves in disguise, Beckett tells her to break his neck.
She is against having Han and Chewie join the crew for the Conveyex heist but Han sweet-talks Beckett enough to get them on board. Val sees through Han’s bravado, she’s probably seen more youngsters trying their hand at the criminal life who have messed up than she can count and why should Han be any different? He’s not at that point.
Her dedication to her crew is admirable and despite her feelings towards Beckett, she puts the job first. Sacrificing herself to complete her part in the plan by blowing up a bridge the Conveyex must cross. Unfortunately she is pinned down by Imperial Security Droids and the only way she can protect the crew and finish the job is to go down with the bridge.
It’s a great loss, Val is a brilliant character who deserved more time to shine. She could have had a great character arc through the film, even have her secretly being either a mole for Dryden Vos or even Enfys Nest which, for me, would have been amazing, had they not been in the same scene together during the train job.
With a Beckett One-Shot coming from Marvel later this year I hope we get to see more of Val, kicking ass and stealing with Beckett and Rio. Hell, I want a novel or two. Audiobook versions read by Thandie Newton. Someone call Lucasfilm, I’m on to something here.
Beckett and Val also worked with an Ardennian pilot by the name of Rio Durant (voiced brilliantly by Jon Favreau). He’s the comedian of the crew who has lived an interesting life and knows comfort (curled up in a Wookiees lap so he says). He’s the pilot who Han has to replace during the train heist.
His physiology makes for an interesting piloting method, swinging across the AT-Haulers cockpit, flicking switches and using the controls, all with a smile on his face. It’s obvious he’s been working with Beckett and Val for some time, and it’s hard on Beckett when he not only has to bury his partner but his friend too, after Rio was fatally shot by one of Enfys Nest’s Marauders who broke into the AT-Haulers cockpit during the Conveyex job.
If Beckett was the brains and Val was the muscle then Rio was definitely the heart of the crew, an easily likeable guy who makes you feel welcome, even if Val is calling you and your new Wookiee friend ‘morons’.
If we get more stories about Beckett and Val then we need more Rio in them as well. Out of the two deaths on Vandor, Rio’s was the most necessary for the plot so that Han could take the role of Pilot for Beckett’s crew but his death came too soon for us fans.
Dryden Vos! Yes he is the main antagonist of the film and played brilliantly by Paul Bettany. He’s a brilliantly sinister high-up member of the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate who we learn isn’t very forgiving, his introduction shows him killing the local Imperial Governor for whatever reason, we never really find out why.
His control over Qi’Ra is disturbing, he calls her his top lieutenant but the way he acts with her seems almost territorial and abusive. And given the audience’s knowledge of hers and Han’s past we automatically dislike him.
Bettany plays the character so well, in one moment he’s asking Han how he’s doing, almost believably concerned and the next second threatening to kill Han if the job goes wrong. I
He has a vast collection of rare artefacts in his office, the most notable of which on display is a set of ancient Mandalorian armour and an ancient Sith Holocron. Most of which gets destroyed in his attempt to kill Han and in his fight with Qi’Ra. As a fighter he’s incredibly accomplished, a master of Teras Kasi and proficient at fighting with blades weapons (and more than likely just as handy with a blaster).
The great thing about Star Wars is the abundance of great characters, both major and minor, all of whom have a story for us to see, read or hear. I can’t wait to get more stories featuring the new characters from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
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