Main cast: John Boyega (Jake Pentecost), Scott Eastwood (Nate Lambert), Cailee Spaeny (Amara Namani), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), Charlie Day (Dr Newton Geiszler), Burn Gorman (Dr Hermann Gottlieb), Jing Tian (Liwen Shao), Adria Arjona (Jules Reyes), Zhang Jin (Marshal Quan), Karan Brar (Suresh), Ivanna Sakhno (Vik), Mackenyu (Ryoichi), Shyrley Rodriguez (Renata), Levi Meaden (Ilya), Rahart Adams (Tahima Shaheen), Zhu Zhu (Juen), and Nick E Tarabay (Sonny)
Director: Steven S DeKnight
This review contains some spoilers for the previous movie Pacific Rim, so don’t look if you don’t want to see these incriminating facts. Although, given how stupid these movies are, I doubt anyone will find their enjoyment worsened by knowing these spoilers. Oh yes, Pacific Rim Uprising is so dumb.
Because Charlie Hunnam is too busy starring in movies that will never make any money, there is only one mention of his character here, and even then, there is no clue as to whether that character is dead or alive. Ten years have passed since the events in the previous movie, after all, and a lot can happen, but I guess they are keeping their options open in case they need Raleigh Becket for the third movie. Heaven knows, there is a shortage of compelling leading males in this movie, and they could use all the help they can get if they make a third one.
Anyway, we now focus on Jake Pentecost, the son of that general who died in the previous movie while trying to save the world. Unlike his adopted sister Mako Mori, he prefers to party and bum around as a result of his father never giving him the love he wanted when that man was alive. John Boyega is pretty terrible here, by the way, in his effort to channel the less talented brother of Will Smith’s character in Independence Day. He was once in training to be a Jaeger pilot, but he dropped out after a fight with his partner Nate Lambert. After crashing into a Jaeger scrapyard to steal parts on behalf of some thug boss, he crosses path with tech savant Amara, a young girl who is building her own Jaeger and has grabbed the very part he is searching for. His pursuit of her unwittingly leads the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps to the both of them, and both he and Amara are given the choice by Mako: go back to Jaeger training school (he to teach, she to train) or spend time in jail.
So, Jake reunites and clashes with Nate, while Amara tries to fit in with the new recruits. Amidst all this boring drama, the Jaeger pilots are once again threatened with obsolescence: Dr Liwen Shao, with the assistance of Dr Newton Geiszler, has created what seems like an upgrade to the Jaegers. Her new technology incorporates the use of drones, allowing Jaegers to be controlled from any location in the world. Even more significantly, there is no longer any need for drift-compatible pilots placed inside the Jaeger itself, as the giant mecha can be remotely controlled by anyone from anywhere. Jake and Amara enter the PPDC training program just in time to witness this drone tech being deployed for a live trial, the result of which will be assessed by Mako herself.
Unfortunately, things go wrong when, during the meeting in which Mako intends to present her verdict, the party is crashed by a rogue Jaeger that kills Mako and leave most of the Jaegers out of commission. The drones are deployed officially as a result, which leads to more complications when they are taken over by what seems like Kaiju secondary brains implanted into them. Oh no, what is going on here? The whole thing turns out to be a plot by the Precursors who, after realizing that sending Kaiju after Kaiju in the previous movie wasn’t the most effective move ever, now instead have brainwashed Newt Geiszler, who secretly ensured that the drone program can be taken over by Precursors once it is deployed. Now, the drone-controlled robots have created new breaches, and three powerful Kaiju monsters are loose. And there are hardly any Jaeger pilots left, aside from Jake, Nate, and the newbies…
Here’s the thing: this movie exposes the gulf of capability between Guillermo del Toro, who directed the previous movie, and Steven S DeKnight, the first-time director helming this one. Pacific Rim may be boring, but there were signs of intelligence life in that movie, in the form of homage, pacing, and setting up of scenes. Here, Mr DeKnight’s direction is clunky – the movie is a boring, loud, and lifeless effort to replicate the worst excesses of the Transformers movies. The cast, especially the younger ones, spend ample time on screen either standing stiffly or looking lost, and the action scenes seem clumsy compared to those in the previous movie.
Also, this movie attempts to do that ha-ha-ha at the end of every serious scene thing, and it is painfully awkward to watch. One, the funny lines are pretty awful. Two, the bulk of the cast are either too inexperienced or too wooden to pull off humor well, so the bulk of the comedic moments feel very rehearsed and stilted. Three, Scott Eastwood has all the personality of a wooden clog here while John Boyega tries too hard and overacts to a cringe-inducing degree.
Furthermore, the script is pretty dire. It could very well be rejected drafts of Independence Day and Transformers scripts given cursory changes to names and places, as there are several key scenes here that are replicated from those movies. The mid-credits scene, in fact, heavily echoes the final scene of Independence Day: Resurgence, and one would have to be very desperate or stupid to try to imitate that sorry piece of crap.
Pacific Rim Uprising is a flaccid flop that resembles a lousy filmmaker’s efforts to imitate Michael Bay’s worst movies. Really, don’t bother with this one.