Andor [8/10]

If you know a Star Wars fan, you know what fandom is like. Me, I watched and enjoyed the original 1977 blockbuster but fast lost interest in what I felt to be an increasingly fluffy franchise. The rest of the Star Wars phenomenon passed me by, until I chanced upon the first season of The Mandelorian last year. It felt like a moody wastern action movie; I enjoyed it. Now, prompted by accolades from friends, I’ve binged the dozen episodes of what is clearly Season 1 of “Andor.” And I can report that it is quality sci-fi, serious and moody, with a fine story arc, excellent acting, and superlative world building. In some form of long-before prequel to Star Wars, amidst the birth of the Rebel Alliance challenging the despotic Empire, we follow Cassian Andor, a tough, unsuccessful grifter in a faraway planet, who attracts the brutality of the Empire and the curiosity of Luthen Rael, master rebel plotter. Cassian’s fraught adventures over the many hours of this season slowly but surely seek to bring him from self-centered impulses towards revolution. Diego Luna is the key. As Cassian, he is sharp-eyed and driven, with a talent for daredevilry, an understated performance that suits perfectly the gritty plotline. And Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd soars as Luthen. The action sequences are superb, the supporting actors are excellent, and direction is tight without being rushed. My only qualms were with some of the sets (they looked fake) and the insipid music so characteristic of this franchise. Overall, Andor is one of 2022’s most rewarding science fiction outings.

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