Justin Lin’s rollicking action-adventure sequel is a paean to unity, teamwork, and the best qualities of humanity.
In these dark times, you might expect Star Trek Beyond to echo the tone of the previous film in this storied franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness. That was a paranoid thriller about suicide bombers, super-soldiers, and ethical rot at the heart of government—a decidedly dystopian tale. Happily, Beyond sweeps all of that aside, delivering a rollicking adventure about the transformative good of teamwork and unity that’s just as silly and enjoyable as that might sound. It’s no complex masterpiece, but it’s exactly the kind of fun steeped in effervescent goodwill that Hollywood should be delivering right now.
Like the two previous Star Trek films (which were directed by J.J. Abrams), Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and others as younger, alternate versions of the original Enterprise crew, whose adventures tend to be a little heavier on the action beats and CGI mayhem than Gene Roddenberry’s original ’60s TV show. After making a royal mess of Into Darkness and moving on to the Star Wars franchise, Abrams handed the reins to the confident action director Justin Lin. Having revitalized the Fast & Furious franchise (directing the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth entries), Lin uses the same magic to spruce Star Trek up. Unlike Abrams’ sweeping 2009 reboot, Beyond can seem slight at times, but in a way that recalls the best of the franchise, harkening back to Roddenberry’s original, optimistic view of the future.