Fans of watching big robots and Kaiju-style monsters hitting each other repeatedly, destroying everything around them for good measure, rejoice! Everyone else, you might want to sit this one out, because if you were expecting anything resembling a coherent story from the follow up to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster behemoth Pacific Rim, then you will be sorely disappointed.
Directed by Steven S. DeKnight, and starring John Boyega – who incidentally is also credited as producer on the movie – Pacific Rim: Uprising starts as it means to go on, by throwing everything it can at its audience. But despite presenting a rather silly premise held together with lengthy action set pieces, it still manages to keep its intended demographic hooked till to the very end.
The action takes place 10 years after the end of a war that saw humankind take on and defeat the destructive force of its Kaiju invaders with the help of Jaeger robots manned by gifted pilots. Enter Jake Pentecost (Boyega), the son of fallen war hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who instead of following in his father’s foot steps after a promising start as a trainee pilot, has since opted for a life of crime and dodgy dealings with the criminal underworld. After being caught red-handed trying to steal some abandoned Jaeger tech alongside precocious teenage orphan Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), Jake is given a choice to either go to prison or help train Amara and a whole new generation of young pilots in preparation for new Kaiju attacks.
Staring alongside Boyega & Spaeny are Scott Eastwood as goody-two-shoes rival pilot Nate Lambert, Tian Jing as badass tech boss Liwen Shao, and the hugely infuriating and jarringly over the top Charlie Day, who reprises his Dr. Newton Geiszler role from the original movie.
The film offers up a complicated plot packed to the brim with some of the most ridiculously detailed technical jargon, which quite frankly nobody needed or felt the need to have it explained for them. However, director Steven S. DeKnight is at his best when he forgoes all pretence of a narrative and decides to give audiences what they came in for, huge and lengthy fight scenes with big giant robots knocking bits out of each other.
On the whole, Pacific Rim: Uprising is big, brash and deeply unfunny. The writing is as robotic as the Jaegers its depicts, and the characters are as two-dimensional as you would expect. While Boyega does his best to elevate this production from being merely mediocre to just about passable, it remains a real shame to see such huge acting talent squandered on such a poorly executed action flick.