Finn could have been a genuinely interesting character, if there had been even just the smallest hint at the psychological tensions that might be involved in turning against everything that you’ve been raised to become. But alas, no, J.J. Abrams elected to stick with the sure seller of the plot and settings that made the original Star Wars franchise enduring, and Finn ends up a simple pawn in the headlong drive of the plot.
Yet despite the shallowness of the characters (again, an utterly enjoyable shallowness, worth savoring in 3D IMAX), I thought there was an element of “realness” imbued to the young villain, Kylo Ren, that touches on an interesting, if disturbing, zeitgeist not present in past Star Wars.
The actor they chose to play Kylo, Adam Driver, is well-casted. When he removes his helmet, there is a feeling of revelation. He is pale, his locks flowing, his face slightly askew. He is alienated from his father, and instead worships and seeks to emulate Darth Vader. When things don’t go his way, he explodes into fits of rage, destroying everything around him.
Something about Kylo evokes the image of the American teenage male mass shooter. And in this sense, his character is the most striking of the movie—all of the other characters are completely unattached to any real basis in our modern, mundane world.
Not sure if this was an intentional association that Abrams wanted to make, but it made Kylo much more frightening than any of the “dark force” maneuvers he wielded.