Pacific Rim Uprising is a little like the way George Costanza describes how women view him as a dating prospect in the Seinfeld episode “The Chicken Roaster.” George compares himself to a commercial jingle, “At first it’s a little irritating, then you hear it a few times, you hum it in the shower – by the third date it’s ‘By Mennen.’” Pacific Rim Uprising is similar in that when I walked out of this movie, I was a little irritated, but the more I thought about it and kept talking about some of its weirder aspects, the more it grew on me. “Pacific Rim Upriiiiiiising.”
If I recall correctly, back in 2013 I compared Guillermo del Doro’s first Pacific Rim to Fun Dip. You know, that candy that’s literally just a pouch of sugar that comes with a candy stick. Compared to that first film, Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising, at a run time of 111 minutes, is so lean and mean and devoid of any unnecessary scenes it’s like a packet of Fun Dip without the candy stick. Instead, just open that pouch and drink it down, baby. Honestly, it’s like when people walk out of a movie and say things like, “I liked it but it could have been 15 minutes shorter,” which is always an easier thing to say than it is to do. Pacific Rim Uprising is the movie that just went ahead and did that.
Uprising is set ten years after the events of the first Pacific Rim and a good chunk of coastal cities remain still partially destroyed after the Kaiju attacks and the subsequent battles with the human-controlled Jaegers. John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost from the first film. Jake spends his time partying and stealing scrapped Jaeger parts from junkyards to sell on the black market. There are a lot of junked Jaegers, which leads to people stealing parts to make their own illegal mini Jaegers. This is interesting! The world we see when the movie opens is pretty intriguing and I wish we spent more time exploring it.
Jake gets into some trouble with the wrong arms dealers and finds himself on the run in an illegal Jaeger owned and piloted by Amara (Cailee Spaeny). They are both caught and given the option of time in prison or joining the Pan Pacific Defense Corp. (Or, in Jake’s case, rejoining.) They obviously take the prison time and the rest of the movie is spent watching these two just sit in a jail cell. That last sentence is a lie, but you can probably guess how this plays out. (Okay, I’ll tell you: They team up with Scott Eastwood’s Nate Lambert and Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori to track down a rogue Jaeger operated by an unknown pilot.)