Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba discuss the human side of ‘Pacific Rim’

One of the things that surprised me after I took my sons to see “Pacific Rim” is how certain details landed for them.

For example, there’s a moment in the film where Charlie Hunnam’s character, Raleigh, is trying to make a point to Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), and he grabs his arm. Elba turns around, surprised that anyone would consider grabbing his arm a good idea, and says something to Hunnam. The line he says has become a permanent part of Allen’s vocabulary, and it was an immediate thing. He cackled in the theater, and I’ve heard him quote the line about twenty times now in different situations.

When I asked him why the line entertained him so much, he told me, “Because, daddy, he’s awesome.”

I’d tend to agree. Elba is capable of projecting a certain intensity on camera, and in person, he gives off this great relaxed energy that makes interviewing him a pleasure. On the press day for “Pacific Rim,” held last weekend in San Francisco, Elba was paired for interviews with Charlie Hunnam, who is the film’s ostensible lead. These guys are not complicated about their heroism. They are not tortured about it. They are both firm believers that they have the ability to stop the destruction of civilization by the kaiju, and they give everything they have to the war effort.

Both men are defined in the film largely by how they interact with Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), and while it may appear that they are working at odds for part of the film, it seems to me that they are ultimately united by more than just a hatred of a common enemy. I love that on the day we spoke, Elba looked like he was heading out to a clambake after the interviews. He dressed casually, and he still looked better put together than any interviewer who sat across from him all day.

I wish someone would hurry up and give Elba his own damn franchise. He’s a man the way Jon Hamm is a man, completely devoid of any of the man-child tendencies that are so much a part of our modern movie landscape. Elba is riveting in everything he does, and he’s one of those actors who has such gravity that it’s almost like the light in the room bends towards him.

You can read my review for “Pacific Rim” here, and the film opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.