WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Steven S. DeKnight's Pacific Rim Uprising, in theaters now.
Guillermo del Toro took monster movies to a new level in 2013 with Pacific Rim, a story about humans piloting giant robots called Jaegers against monstrous interdimensional invaders known as Kaiju. Five years later, with director Steven S. DeKnight's sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, the battle for the fate of Earth has evolved, taking twists and turns along the way.
Whereas the original film was fairly straightforward in the depiction of Jaegers versus Kaiju, its sequel pits humanity not just against alien colonizers, but against itself. However, the humans mend fences, barely managing to stop the Kaiju overlords (also known as the Precursors) and their intricate plans for global extermination. As the story ends, we get a brief but very intriguing setup for a follow-up to Uprising that would drastically change the role of the Rangers in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
Pacific Rim Uprising focuses on the journey of ex-Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of war hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), now a scrapper selling Jaeger parts on the black market. In his schemes, he crosses paths with the orphaned Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) as well as the law, which leaves him no choice but to return as a Ranger to the Corps, with Amara as his protege. Here, he oversees her training as a cadet, along with other aspiring pilots, much to the disapproval of fellow Ranger, Nate (Scott Eastwood).
The landscape is much different now, however, as Jaegers are viewed as preventive measure, due to Stacker closing the transdimensional Breach in Pacific Rim. In the decade since the end of the Kaiju War, pilots and scientists have moved to private companies such as the Shao Corporation to make big bucks. Shao factors into Uprising's plot significantly, as it's making Jaegers obsolete by mass-producing drones that can be piloted remotely and eliminate the need to "drift" to control the robots. Coincidentally, the technological advancement threatens to be humanity's downfall.
A series of rogue Jaeger attacks engineered by a mystery villain places the Corps at a serious disadvantage, and allows Shao's drones to be put into action as sentries. However, as Jake's posse investigates the death of their senior, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), they find out their enemy is fusing Kaiju brains with Jaeger tech. That's what Shao is using to allow the drones to be operated remotely, and these hybrid machines then launch a massive assault on the Corps' headquarters, taking out several Jaegers and pilots.
As Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) investigates further, he finds out that his former scientist buddy, Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) is the man pulling the strings, as he's being mind-controlled by the Precursors. After Newt drifted with a Kaiju in the first film, the Precursors locked on to his mind and corrupted him into doing their bidding. Things get worse as Newt also secretly equipped drones with technology to open breaches, inviting Kaiju back over.
It turns out that the Precursors' goal was always to drop a Kaiju into Mt. Fuji, causing the volcano to erupt and kill Earth's inhabitants, while terraforming the planet for themselves. However, Jake, Amara and the rest of his team take the remaining Jaegers and, with some slight modifications thanks to a repentant Shao Corporation, they fight the three Kaiju Newt brought over (which combined into a mega-Kaiju). Luckily, a quick-thinking Jake repurposes his robot, Gipsy Avenger, into a missile to kill the monster before it can set off the volcano.
With the breaches closed and the Kaiju dead again, Newt is apprehended by Nate and imprisoned. The premise for the sequel then builds off Newt's incarceration, as a focused Jake enters a holding cell in the film's stinger scene to speak to the brainwashed scientist. As Newt babbles about the Precursors' relentless mission to invade the planet, Jake stops him dead in his tracks by revealing that plans are afoot for humanity to go on the offensive. He sends a warning to the Precursors through Newt, making it clear the Rangers "are coming for them."
This indicates that rather than wait for next invasion, the Corps will look to invade the aliens' home world, Anteverse. All they have to do is extract the information from Newt's mind and retrofit the new generation of Jaegers with breach-opening technology, much like Newt did with the drones. Only this time, Earth's welcoming committee for the Kaiju will take the shape of aggressive invaders, ready to kill the aliens and their monstrous experiments, once and for all.
In theaters now, director Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising stars John Boyega, Rinko Kikuchi, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, Karan Brar, Ivanna Sakhno, Zhang Jin, Zhu Zhu, Burn Gorman and Charlie Day.