FORGET what you think you know about Star Wars.

It all changes for the saga in The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper).

The struggle at the heart of the franchise in terms of light versus dark as well as the Jedi order and the nature of the ‘Force’ – or ‘hokey religions’ as Han Solo once put it – is all called into question in the series’ eighth episode.

J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, which relaunched Star Wars to much acclaim two years ago, built up the legend of Luke Skywalker and how that inspired a new generation of rebels.

But Johnson switches the tone when Rey (Daisy Ridley), the heir apparent to the Jedi order, does not get what she expects when she meets Luke (Mark Hamill) on that dramatic cliff edge. A darker instalment than The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi features a lot of soul searching.

Living the life of a hermit very much in the mould of Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, Luke is conflicted about the role of the Jedi following his failed teacher-student relationship with his nephew Ben Solo/Kylo Ren.

And a series of flashbacks make you reassess what you think you know about Kylo who also questions his place under the evil Supreme Leader Snoke (performance capture artist Andy Serkis).

Adam Driver is exceptional as the troubled ‘villain’ with his anger and genuine sense of inner turmoil featured among the best scenes in the film. His interactions with Rey are also at the heart of this unpredictable film.

Meanwhile, the story also sees the remnants of the Resistance led by General Organa (Carrie Fisher) in a desperate battle for survival against The First Order under the Nazi-esque General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson).

This is Fisher’s final film after her death in 2016 and thankfully she excels in a much more significant role. It is a worthy swan song. Also in a beefier role is Oscar Isaac as X-Wing ace Poe Dameron who embodies a bit of the cocky, rebellious spirit of Han Solo.

But one of the big flaws of the film is many of the other characters are underdeveloped despite the lengthy two and a half hours runtime. Newcomers Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern as code breaker DJ and as Admiral Holdo respectively do not get enough screen time.

Finn, the big star of The Force Awakens, gets stuck in a clunky romance subplot with Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose, the mysterious Snoke remains just that and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is simply a waste of space.

More hard-hearted fans will also probably frown at the cute distractions like the porgs (the natives of Luke’s home of Ahch-To) and BB-8’s robotic hijinks. But as a darker chapter in the story which is brave enough to break new ground, the Force is strong with this one.

RATING: 8/10