Yeah, but the thing that bugs me is, that he didn’t help those friends for many years, and just sat on a rock waiting to die. Even the death of his best friend and the fact that his sister was in a coma didn’t change his mind. You speak of cheap tricks, but isn’t it much more cheap to prop up Rey by having her beat Luke in a short battle with sticks? She get’s the better of him, and could have lopped his head of with the lightsaber, if she wasn’t one of the good guys. Jedi Master Luke get’s beaten by a girl, who up till a few days earlier believed he was the stuff of legends. Shouldn’t such blatant disregard for the established in-universe rules bug you just a little bit? Yoda once said: a Jedi must have the most serious mind, the deepest commitment. Does this film do that line justice? It took Luke an entire training sequence to learn how to lift a few rocks with his mind, and we’re supposed to accept that Rey can move tons of rocks to free our heroes easier than Yoda can lift an X-wing out of the water? Are we now supposed to believe Luke could have gotten three basic lessons in the Force (of which only one actually involved the Force), and then beat Darth Vader in a fight, because that’s more or less what happens in this movie.
In my response to this, see this more as me playing Devil’s advocate, because in a weird sense, as you can read earlier in this thread, I had a change of perspective. Still, however, I totally get your side if that makes sense. But again, playing Devil’s Advocate:
When you mention Luke did nothing when Han died or when Leia was in a coma, well Luke had cut himself off from the Force, so he couldn’t had felt any disturbances in the Force to know of these events. BUT as Luke allows himself to open up to the Force again, he does reconnect to Leia, as shown when Leia whispers “Luke” in her coma. Arguably, this does encourage Luke to take action again. He made the effort to communicate with Leia at end as well.
Of course, if I’m in your shoes, then I’m wondering why did he give up to begin with? As you mentioned Yoda’s line, about the commitment of the Jedi ways and serving justice, well, this stuff is coming from a grand Jedi Master that also did nothing for ~20 years, and it’s not like he was waiting for the “right” time (though I sorta think Obi-Wan watching Luke on Tatooine was his “wait for the right time” plan) given how Yoda flat out refuses to train Luke. Even beyond the exile of Yoda, both Yoda and Obi-Wan were telling Luke to confront Vader in ROTJ because they both lose faith in redeeming Vader. So it was up to Luke, their pupil, to show them otherwise, that yes, Luke was right all along that there was still good in Vader.
In your shoes again, you’re saying, "But him confronting Vader SHOULD had been a defining lesson in his career that should had prevented the Kylo Ren!"
Now, again, in a way weird way, I’m on your side on this, but for once, I can also see the other side to the argument and point being made. The legend of Luke is cemented in history. Luke is the savior of the galaxy because he destroyed Vader/the Emperor and the clutches of the Empire. Living up to this iconic status I imagine came with a lot of stress and responsibility. In a way, both Obi-Wan and Yoda were cowards because they passed on the burden of saving the galaxy to Luke because they didn’t have to deal with the stress and responsibility themselves. So years later into Luke trying to craft a Jedi Order, is essentially trying to do it from scratch. This is actually a huge challenge because he has to teach a new generation of students. How do you craft a Jedi Order that doesn’t falter the like previous one but also utilizes Luke’s personal ideologies? Luke may had been trained to be a Jedi, but that doesn’t mean he was trained to be a teacher. He was going about this alone, probably because Obi-Wan and Yoda could only help so much due to how Luke has his own unique perception of the Force that tries to move beyond the old dogmatic ways his previous masters were used to.
Now, we’ve got Ben Solo who is tainted by the dark side. This one person would probably bring destruction to his academy and bring much pain to his friends, like Han Solo. Luke just fucking snapped. Maybe he saw the future of his friends in pain again, and couldn’t bear to go through that again like he did in ESB. So for a fleeting moment, he didn’t want that to happen, but of course the real Luke regrets even thinking like that. Though this was Luke’s error. He was afraid of mistakes. Afraid of failure. Afraid of letting down the history of the Jedi if this one single person could destroy it all.
At this point, when Kylo Ren is made, Luke’s hopes and aspirations were crushed. A broken person that had little support safety nets to fall on. Sure, Leia and Han were there, but they can only understand so much. Luke was alone. Luke couldn’t be the Jedi for the future generation. He could be the Jedi that removed a huge threat to the galaxy, but rebuilding is much more difficult to achieve than destroying is.
If this sounds like mental gymnastics, it probably is. Merely, however, offering this perspective as someone that totally gets your side. I’m not even trying to imply I’m in the “right” here, as I need to see this film a few more times to really digest it all, so me playing Devil’s Advocate is just that, me trying to process it.
Didn’t reply to other points as I felt this long enough, but hopefully it sorta answers your last point about Rey.
Good points! I can see what you mean. I think it would have helped if we had seen more of how Luke got to the point where we see him in Kylo’s room, his loneliness, his self doubt, and Kylo’s struggles with Luke, his parents, and the dark side. As it is now, the film just asks the viewer to accept, that the Luke you know is gone, he’s changed, and o yeah, here’s a very very short scene that depicts him instinctively thinking of killing his nephew. I’m sure you can figure out the details. Good luck!