There are a lot of good scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This one is my favorite.
It happens a little over 30 minutes into the movie. Immediately after meeting, nervous ex-stormtrooper Finn and scavenger-with-a-destiny Rey have been thrown into a desperate battle for their lives, first fleeing a TIE Fighter attack on Rey’s Jakku town and then making a frantic escape aboard the “garbage” Millennium Falcon.
Rey’s flying the ship and Finn is in the Falcon’s gun turret. She pulls some sick low-altitude maneuvers while he manages to take one of their two TIE pursuers out. Then his turret is hit, locking it in a forward position.
Rey then pulls a so-crazy-it-just-might-work maneuver, threading the Falcon straight through the guts of a husked-out star destroyer before killing her thrusters and flipping end over end, which lines Finn up for a perfect shot.
Boom! Hell yes! When I saw that in the theater for the first time, the audience went wild.
That’s not my favorite scene, though. My favorite scene comes immediately after.
As BB-8 un-moors himself from the walls, Rey and Finn come storming out of their respective areas and meet in the hall, fingers pointed, leaning forward, unable to contain themselves.
Rey: Nice shooting.
Finn: Now that was some flying!
Finn: How did you do that?
Rey: I don’t know.
Finn: No one trained you? No one??
Rey: I’ve flown some ships but I’ve never left the planet!
Finn: That was amazing.
Rey: Your last shot was dead-on.
Finn: You, you set me up for it.
Rey: You got him with one blast!
Finn: That was pretty good.
Rey: It was perfect.
I love this scene. I love it so much. I could watch it over and over again. While I was writing this article, I did watch it over and over again, and it never got old.
I love this scene because of both characters’ enthusiasm. I love how excited they are, how big the smiles on their faces are, how their immediate instinct is to be supportive of one another. They just did something incredible together, and they are so pumped about it.
I’ve long wished more characters in movies and video games would be properly psyched about the amazing feats they pull off. This was exactly that, executed flawlessly. The way the camera pulls in as they circle each other, the way BB-8 seems mystified by their gleeful energy, the looks on their faces, the way they each keep turning the conversation around to compliment the other. Perfect.
Look at John Boyega and Daisy Ridley’s faces:
This was the scene that sold me on The Force Awakens the first time I saw it. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. For the first 30 minutes, the movie throws a lot of exciting action and spectacle your way, makes some rushed and charming introductions, but is mostly setting the groundwork for the back half. This scene is where it really comes together. It’s when Finn and Rey go from “I know how to run without you holding my hand!” to “It was perfect.”
I don’t know if these two are fated to be together romantically or if they’re just going to be very good friends. I don’t know what will befall Rey in Episode VIII and beyond, and I don’t know where Finn will wake up or how he’ll find her again. All I know is that in this 13-second exchange, their bond was forged forever.
BB-8’s reaction shot says it all: