Andor, Star Wars, and the Need for More Space Heist Movies

The point is stories set on spaceships and among heist masterminds are two great flavors of the same food group. They should, in any rational universe, taste great together. Spaceships are highly contained, controlled environments where highly competent people engage in solving technical problems to achieve their goals. Meanwhile the cinematic heist genre usually revolves around teams of highly competent people engaged in solving technical problems in a highly contained, controlled environment to achieve their goals (to steal stuff). Yet, if you look for entries in the space heist subgenre, you will find the pickings are surprisingly sparse unless, like Andor, you’re from the galaxy far, far away.

Sci-Fi Crime Movies That Miss the Fun of Heists

Don’t get us wrong though. If you want crime in space then there is absolutely no shortage. This is the final frontier, after all, and you can’t have a final frontier without some final outlaws. The two biggest titans of the space crime genre have recently been the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie and last year’s surprise Korean space opera hit, Space Sweepers. Yet the meat of both of these movies isn’t about stealing something. It is about fencing something—the boring bit that most heist movies rightly leave until long after the credits have rolled.

Beyond that, there are space lawman movies (Sean Connery’s surprisingly hard sci-fi crime thriller Outland), space smuggling movies (Space Truckers—which has a lot of fans but we’d politely suggest those fans haven’t rewatched it in a while), and space piracy movies (Disney’s own Treasure Planet, which is actually a pretty great space adventure). There’s even a subgenre of space jailbreak movies, including Luc Besson’s Lockout, from 2012, and 2018’s less well-regarded Incoming.

The closest candidate for an actual full on space heist is Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, with a few exceptions. And just like this week’s Andor, those exceptions tend to take place in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars Gets It

The “A Star Wars Story” series of standalone spinoffs was a short, weird offshoot of the main Star Wars saga that, despite its critics, gave us two of the most enjoyable movies in the franchise. Funnily enough, they were both space heist stories.

Solo: A Star Wars Story gives us the story of a young street urchin named Han, and follows him on a journey from the mean streets of Coruscant to the world of high crime, eventually helping to hatch a plan to steal a shipment of coaxium. It involves all the ingredients, even if it rushes past some of them. The crew is assembled; the plan is executed; everything goes wrong (naturally); and there are last minute twists and betrayals. It even features friendly rivals getting to know each other over a high stakes card game. It’s no Empire Strikes Back or The Last Jedi (which also, incidentally, features a heist), but it is one of the most fun entrants in the franchise.

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