Paige’s sacrifice is actually an important point of comparison. She destroys the dreadnaught, yes, but the Resistance has lost all their bombers (plus many other fighters), so was it actually worth it? I tend to think even if Finn did destroy the battering ram, it wouldn’t have been worth much. That’s just one weapon, look at the rest of the First Order fire power at hand. The Resistance plan to hold out in that base probably only worked if they didn’t know they were there. Poe’s plan to destroy the cannon mirror’s his plan to destroy the dreadnaught - taking out something very destructive yes, but ultimately the smarter decision is to know when it’s time to cut your losses and get the fuck out of there before you lose all your people on a suicide mission.
That’s basically the distinction, between fruitless suicide mission and noble sacrifice. The film isn’t suggesting that sacrifices never work, you just have to know when it’s worth it. Both Holdo and Luke had no choice. Holdo has to stay behind to pilot the cruiser and was going to die anyway. She would have likely gone out peacefully if the remaining Resistance didn’t need help in that very moment. Same as Luke. Snoke found out where he was from Rey so there’s a decent chance the First Order was already on the way to destroy the island. Luke was obviously prepared to die without putting up a fight, but realized ultimately how much he was needed.
It’s essentially two different equations.
Who’s to say that Finn’s sacrifice wouldn’t have been worth it? My assumption was that Finn’s intention from the start of his run was to kamikaze his ship into the cannon. Would it have been fruitless? Possibly, but the movie failed to make it clear that it would have been fruitless. Also in saving Finn, Rose could have easily killed both of them with zero upside.
So if the message we’re supposed to take away from this is: Sacrifice is sometimes worth it, but you just have to weigh the cost/benefit depending on your specific situation–it’s not a very strong or clear message, especially for a Star Wars movie. This kind of goes along with a general trend in this movie of presenting a idea or message that should be simple and muddling it due to what I can only chalk up to poor execution.
Not that the movie is poorly executed in general. Much of it is fantastic. I simultaneously love and am frustrated by this film.