Benicio Del Toro And My Problematic Star Wars: The Last Jedi Fave

9.5
  • Science Fiction
2017-12-15
star wars the last jedi benicio del toro dj character
Benicio del Toro as DJ. via Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi , Benicio del Toro swaggers onto the screen to play a character who instantly became my favorite: a weatherbeaten, stammering, roguish hacker whose mercenary countenance, begrimed clothes, cutthroat competence and untrustworthy aura seemed to spark a thousand possible stories. In addition to being another electric, eccentric and exciting Hispanic actor to star in a Star Wars movie (we get Oscar Isaac and Benicio del Toro? Oh hell yes), del Toro’s staggering charisma infused his character with the kind of magnetism we’re used to seeing from some of the series’ unlikeliest heroes.

The character’s name is DJ, and he’s the hacker Rose and Finn pick up when they failed to get their first pick. DJ shrugs and smirks and asks for cold hard cash at every chance, stammering his words out without an iota of nervousness. Rose and Finn have no other choice but to trust him, otherwise their mission will have been in vain.

Spoiler alert: their mission was in vain. Their mission was so much in vain, in fact, that they are indirectly responsible for the deaths of a vast chunk of the Resistance — DJ betrays our plucky heroes to the First Order at the last hour in exchange for a pallet loaded up with cash dollar (or credits or whatever) and a whole new ship just for him.

DJ isn’t actually the heroic rogue or loveable rapscallion he seems to be when he and BB-8 fought their way out of a benighted Canto Bight jail. He’s not a person to root for, a troubled underdog, or a scamp with a heart of gold. Sure, he gives Rose her sister’s necklace back, but he’s just refunding payment for services he’s no longer planning to render.

He’s a simple creature: an amoral asshole, a cunning and arrogant bit of work who thinks his skill with tech gives him carte blanche to do as he pleases. A shallow and cynical thinker who believes good and evil are a crock even when presented with the most blatant examples of both.

Snoke is Big Evil, but DJ is Little Evil. Common Evil. Quotidian, Everyday Evil. He’s your friend on Facebook and that one coworker you dread working with. He’s that tedious Twitter egg who thinks their nihilism is the cleverest thing imaginable. He’s as much of a manchild as Kylo Ren, just without the showy temper tantrums.

DJ stands in for the type of people who know it’s so much easier to stand for nothing than to stand for something. He’s greedy, lazy, cowardly, and the only reason he’s not a traitor is because he doesn’t believe in anything strongly enough to betray it. Finn and Rose both seem to lack the life experience they’d need to see through a man like this (I can’t help but think that Poe would have seen through him in a hot second).

But for all that, DJ is still a fascinating figure. We don’t know if DJ makes it out before Vice-Admiral Holdo rams her ship through the First Order ship at lightspeed, but I kind of hope the scumbag sonuvabitch did. I hope, like a roach, that he survives and thrives in the interstices of whatever world the battle between the Rebellion and the First Order creates.

I can’t help it: Benicio makes even the sleaziest of sleazeball characters into someone you can’t take your eyes off of. You can take your tormented Kylos, but as far as love-to-hate-‘em types, I’ll stick with DJ.

 

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