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Rian Johnson explains why he cut so many Finn scenes from The Last Jedi

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Apr 4, 2018, 10:30 AM EDT

Star Wars: The Last Jedi had a bit of an uneven split when it came to which of its characters had the hard-hitting emotional beats of a Star Wars saga, especially compared to the group dynamic established in The Force Awakens.

This echoed the follow-up's thematic bond with Empire Strikes Back. With many of the deleted scenes arriving online in anticipation of The Last Jedi’s arrival on Blu-ray and DVD, a pattern emerges from those sequences left out of writer/director Rian Johnson’s film. Finn seems to have many of his minor moments left on the cutting-room floor.

There’s the longer fight with Phasma, there’re scenes of him bumping into stormtroopers in disguise (some featuring Tom Hardy), and an alternate opening more focused on Finn. So what happened to him?

To find out why, Digital Spy picked Johnson’s brain. "A lot of the Finn scenes that were cut are connective material. For instance, there's a scene where he's on the ship, and,” the director said, “basically, BB-8 shows him a recording he made of Rey saying goodbye to him. That's when he decides, 'Oh my God, I'm going to go save Rey'.”

Johnson harbored no ill will toward Boyega, whom he calls “freaking fantastic” and “at his worst better than most people at their best,” it’s just that his character was the unfortunate mannequin on which many extraneous plot explanations were hung.

Referring to the recording scene, Johnson said that “once we realized that we could take it out and the audience would know he's holding Rey's beacon, and 'Oh, he's going to save her,' and they would make that leap – suddenly, you can't justify that scene being there.” It’s a matter of trusting an audience to be smart enough to figure something out without it being explicitly spelled out for them, which makes a film seem tighter and sharper overall.

On the other side of things, Rey “had longer sequences on the island that were with Luke,” which were more designed to focus on her character arc and the deep, complex decision-making she’d have to reckon with in the film’s plot. Finn’s role in the film, while still emotionally complex, “was a little more plotty.” That means that when push comes to shove, cutting the latter is an editor’s preference.

Do you think trimming Finn’s moments helped or hurt The Last Jedi?