In a world that is still trying to put its pieces back together 10 years after the Battle of the Breach, former Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) is just trying to live life to the fullest, far away from the shadow of his pilot father, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and sister, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). But as it so happens, trouble seems to follow Jake everywhere like a shadow. When he attempts to flee from PPDC alongside a young girl named Amara (Cailee Spaeny) who stole a piece of old Jaeger tech before Jake could get his hands on it, he is faced with an ultimatum from his sister: return to the PPDC, training the new cadets or face prison time.
Needless to say, none of these choices suits Jake but he chooses the seemingly lesser of the two evils and finds himself back at the last place he ever believed he’d be again. When Jake arrives at the Hong Kong Shatterdome, he is met with hostility from his former co-pilot, Nate (Scott Eastwood) but mechanic Jules Reyes (Adria Arjona), gets the boys to play nice – even for a short while before it’s time to meet the new cadets, who are stoked that they will have the honor of being taught by a Pentecost. However, there is drama within the new recruits, as not all of them are fond of how Amara got put on a fast track to the academy.
However, as there are no Kaiju left to fight based on the sacrifice of Stacker in the previous film, the Jaeger program is in danger of being shut down, specifically because Shao Corporation, headed by Liwen Shao (Jing Tian), has drones that do not require pilots. However, when a rogue Jaeger attacks the summit where the drone program is to be approved or unapproved, all PPDC Jaegers stationed in the Pacific are put on high alert. Piloting Gipsy Avenger, Jake and Nate fight against the Jaeger and set out on a mission to find out just why the rogue attacked, who is piloting it and most of all, who sent it. This sends the team on a mission they did not foresee coming and it’s a fun-filled ride for moviegoers wanting to see some of the notable Jaeger action from the first film.
Now, while Pacific Rim Uprising does not have the same creativity as its 2012 predecessor (which was directed by recent Academy Award winner, Guillermo del Toro), it does share a strong, charismatic cast who make the movie what it is. John Boyega shines as Jake Pentecost and he truly carries the film on his shoulders. Not only is Boyega believable as the charming renegade, but he displays range far from what we’ve seen in his past turns as Finn in the latest Star Wars films. Returning characters from the previous franchise, Dr. Herman Gottlieb and Dr. Newt Geiszler, played by Burn Gorham and Charlie Day, respectively provide the same comedic relief as they did in the previous film. Rinko Kikuchi is a still a scene stealer as Mako Mori – although I did not care for how underutilized she was, especially as she was one of the main protagonists from the original. Being the adoptive sister of Jake, it would have been nice if the film had delved deeper into their relationship and bond. Unfortunately, this is one of the parts where the movie felt rushed.
In regards to the new characters, such as Cailee Spaeny’s, Amara and Adria Arjona’s Jules, they are great in the scenes we see them in. However, Jules’ appearances are sparse in comparison to her counterparts and it would have been interesting to ee Arjona take on Eastwood’s role as co-pilot to Pentecost, as the chemistry between both Arjona and Boyega in the few scenes they do share is great. I also believe we should have had a bit more time with the new cadets. Each of them were full of personality and they had some of the film’s best comedic relief, but we do not get to know them all as well as we could and should have.
Slight character missteps and rushed elements aside, Stephen S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising, does live up to expectations in the fun department with some emotional moments thrown in to add to the film’s stakes. If you are planning to see the movie in the hopes that you will get some decent laughs, cool action sequences and giant robots fighting one another and some scary creatures, then you should be happy with what you get from Pacific Rim Uprising. What you see in the trailers is definitely what you get.