Choosing Abrams is a safe choice, but not necessarily a bad one. I think he is an extremely competent director and handled himself admirably with the franchises he was given (Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Star Wars). The real crux here is the screenplay.
Without seeing The Last Jedi, I can’t even remotely speculate on where the story might go. Already, I believe the Episode IV screenplay has gone through numerous rewrites due to a variety of circumstances, most notable the untimely death of Carrie Fisher.
Coming out with The Force Awakens was a massive risk at the time. It could have tanked. No one knew if this was going to work. Star Wars at the movies might have died right then and there. We certainly wouldn’t have had Rogue One withoutThe Force Awakens earning two billion dollars. And that’s all on Abrams.
Of course, a lot of fans basically said The Force Awakens was just warmed over A New Hope and wonder if all he’s going to do for the third installment is to recreate his version of Return of the Jedi. However, I disagree with the whole premise. Sure, there are similarities, but what Abrams did was create something familiar and sprinkle in the new. He introduced the world to new heroes and heroines.
Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi should take everything we were introduced and, I think, create a much darker and possibly bleaker story. Ultimately, this sets up Abrams to take all the dangling threads left and hopefully craft a story that successfully closes out a massive trilogy and provides a satisfying conclusion.
It will be easy to say Abrams will simply make his version of a warmed over Return of the Jedi, but I don’t think he will. He’s a much stronger storyteller than that. Lucasfilm wanted to end the trilogy with the strongest, most capable voice and there really isn’t anyone better suited.
Abrams proved himself with The Force Awakens, so it’s fitting Episode IX falls to him. I can’t wait to see what he and everyone connected to Star Wars put together.