Last year’s ‘‘The Force Awakens’’ rolled out the cutest, most licensing-friendly droid in the Star Wars universe with BB-8, but it’s the new ‘‘Rogue One’’ that provides the robot we’ve long been looking for.
K-2SO, a former Imperial security droid voiced by Alan Tudyk (“Firefly,’’ ‘‘Moana”) is an imposing, 7-foot-1 presence with killer capabilities and a blunt brusqueness sharpened by an air of British-accented authority. Armed with a quick, no-filter wit, K-2SO steals moments effortlessly, landing by far the most punchlines in a sometimes-bleak film that greatly leans on his comic relief.
Typically in Star Wars films, the nonhuman Rebel characters provide a good deal of the comedy. This was how George Lucas envisioned the dynamic when he created Threepio and Artoo (with a nod to Kurosawa’s peasant servants in ‘‘The Hidden Fortress”). Yet R2-D2 is as warmly childlike as a space-age SpongeBob SquarePants, and C-3PO frets with all the worry of Oz’s Cowardly Lion, so their humor often rings as rooted in vulnerability, not aggressive invincibility.
K-2SO, by contrast, is a droid for social-media times. Freed and reprogrammed by Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), this ‘‘Rogue’’ robot is freshly armed with comedic snark. He’ll quote the percentage rate of a mission’s success or failure - as C-3PO does - but isn’t quite as easy to quiet down or shut down as Threepio was.
K-2SO, for instance, will chime, ‘‘That is a bad idea’’ amid squabbling humans, momentarily showing zero deference despite his loyalty to Cassian. He can deliver a deadly funny deadpan when telling heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones): ‘‘The captain says you’re a friend. I will not kill you.’’ He waits an expert comic beat before saying, ‘‘The captain said I had to.’’ Yet when Jyn blasts an identical-looking droid, he can also reveal a raised inflection worthy of Threepio when he says: ‘‘Did you know that wasn’t me?’’
Thanks to his moments of seeming mental independence and verbal firepower, K-2SO (“K-2? or ‘‘Kaytoo’’ for short, like the Himalayan peak) also comes across as the next wave in artificial intelligence - as if Ava in ‘‘Ex Machina’’ relied on attitudinal one-liners to negotiate her way around quirky humans. He’d be too loyal to join a ‘‘Westworld’’ host rebellion, but he’d get off a volley of wry wisecracks while watching the uprising go down.
And that’s why Kaytoo is just the droid for an increasingly heavy ‘‘war picture.’’ Whenever the allied forces are storming a Scarif beach, you need the character whose wit is as dry as a British martini - and whose high-proof verbal shots go down just as easy.
Keywords: star wars, rogue one, rogue one droid, k-2SO, k-2SO droid, k-2SO star wars, k-2SO rogue one, k-2SO tudyk, alan tudyk, gareth edwards, bb-8, force awakens, force awakens droid, c-3PO, R2-D2