Spoilers so step on if you haven’t seen it. I shall be addressing the “that is not how the Force works” issues with a main character.
So some people have presented a problem with Rey using the Force and being seemingly proficient in it without training. And there is a feeling that the Force is being ruined or guided in a direction that some do not agree with. It is a recurring problem I have seen expressed and I think a lot of people might be overlooking a few of points (maybe not, but figured I’d add my two pennies anyhow).
First, the reason Jedi seek to find and train Force sensitives is because of unchecked ability. Anakin Skywalker is able to use foresight without training, for example. The Force augments a person without training. Having an untrained force user in the galaxy was a concern. And those with it often used their abilities to further themselves in the galaxy. They were able to use the Force without training. They were limited by two things – complete ignorance, not knowing it was the Force aiding them. And ignorance of abilities, not knowing what the Force could be used for. Thus rarely do they go beyond the simple insights and proddings they feel.
Second, training makes it reliable, yes. It makes it an at will thing. Obi-Wan does the Jedi Mind Trick without effort because of training. But once you know something? Once you have an idea that you have this power and it can affect people’s minds? You have already jumped pass the two biggest hurdles we just mentioned. Training is not required to access and use the Force. Training is about Ethics, it is about Tangible Repeatable Results. It is about learning to use it under duress. It is learning to use it without resorting to emotional prodding and the Dark Side. This is what Jedi Training is about. It is about Mastery. Understanding. And overcoming Ignorance – what you can and cannot do with the Force. What you should and should not do with the Force. And using it in stressful situations reliably.
Third, we have an understanding the Jedi sometimes excel in certain areas of the Force. Different Jedi had different strengths. Who is to say Mind Affect is not an innate trait of Rey’s? Perhaps subtly being done over her years as a scavenger? She seemed to convince the greedy little scavenger who trapped BB-8 well enough.
Now – I view Rey’s use of the Mind Trick was great and within the confines of everything we know of the Force, Canon or Legends. She failed. And Again. She knew it was possible, but failed. How is this different than Luke on Hoth? Nowhere within the movies do we see him get telekinesis training. But he knows of the Force and its abilities. So why not try? Both had to stop – calm the mind – and than force their will (no pun intended). It was a great moment. I’d personally love to see her fail again in the next movie – because of lack of training. Not reliable yet. The Force aiding, guiding to a specific outcome.
Side Note: I’d recommend Scourge (A Legends novel) which touches on the subject of the Mind Trick throughout the book. I think it helps understanding how such a thing can be done.
Lightsaber Duel – “The Force doesn’t make you a skilled duelist.” Correct, but it does help telegraph moves – as said it guides. Rey already knows how to fight. So with premonition and nudges to strike here, block there, strike here? Which whether you go Jedi Apprentice series or A New Hope, you know the Force does work in that manner. So yeah, going to kick butt. “But Ren has more training!” True BUT, he was still emotionally torn from killing his father, that just happened, so unstable (no doubt affecting his own connection to the Force). He was shot with a bowcaster that was blowing stormtroopers out of their boots (connection issue even with Dark Side logic of pain fuels me – body and mind can only take so much). He had just fought Finn and suffered a wound from that battle (so hindered in that). He was holding back because he had NO Intention of Killing Rey. He just wanted to her to willingly join his side. So he wasn’t fighting to win, he was fighting to simply defend and diffuse. Any real fighter will tell you that makes a huge difference. So not going 100%. And Rey, connected to the Force, calm mind in battle, already established as a skilled fighter, and fighting 100%? Why wouldn’t she kick the crap out of him?
Overall I felt nothing shown went against any notion of the Force that we have been shown or know of, again canon or legends. Rey is awesome. But she isn’t overpowered, she struggles. And just the knowledge that you can tap into this great power which you had heard stories and legends of your whole life? Seriously, think for a minute. If you knew you had the Force as seen in Star Wars – how many abilities would you try? How would you try them? Maybe based off the stories you know so well? Stop – Calm the Mind – Focus – Act? Nope. Sorry I stand behind Rey’s actions within the movie and feel they are directly in line with canon – not changing direction or altering the Force in any way.