Pacific Rim, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, has been performing well below expectations. And that’s too bad because even if it’s not the most incredible film I’ve seen this summer (or even this week), it is a damn enjoyable summer flick and certainly worth hauling your ass to the theater. So why isn’t it incredible? What’s standing between these terrifying beasts and greatness? Oh god, that would be the dreadful script. I can’t lay all the blame on head writer Travis Beacham, we know that there were likely a lot of cooks in that kitchen. (Including the much beloved Guillermo del Torro.) But I want to know who looked at Beacham’s other major writing credit, Clash Of The Titans, and said “That guy! Let’s have more of that guy. Only with added futuristic technobabble.”
Now the concept for Pacific Rim is Beacham’s. And I have no problem with that. All the smash and even more boom, please. But the dialogue desperately needed a polish (or at least a hacksaw). Apparently Iron-Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce was hired to clean Pacific Rim up. If so, I’d hate to have seen it before Pearce got his talented hands on it.
But you know what burns me? What has motivated me to write this list? I’ve heard a lot of the blame dropped on the cast. Not cool. Sure there are some performers who did better than others with the clunky dialogue. But every actor assembled for this project has at least one or two knock-out performances in their pocket and they deserve none of the blame. Don’t believe me?
Clifton Collins Jr. — Sunshine Cleaning: Collins is one of my favorite character actors. He did an amazing job in Capote holding his own opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman. But it was his charming-as-hell performance in Sunshine Cleaning that won my heart completely.
Rinko Kikuchi — The Brothers Bloom: Perhaps it’s unfair to cite Kikuchi’s Bang Bang as evidence of her craft. She only has, what, one line? But her silent clowning is amazing. If you want to see Kikuchi Act with a capital “A,” check out Babel. She’s heart-stopping. But Bang Bang is and always will be my favorite.
Burn Gorman — “Bleak House”: Most people know and love Gorman for his slimy portrayal of Owen on “Torchwood.” But, for me, it’s his Mr. Guppy from “Bleak House” that better shows What Might Have Been in Pacific Rim. He can play weirdly mannered and off-puttingly earnest very well, if given a chance.
Charlie Day — Going The Distance: In my opinion, Day was the second strongest performer in Pacific Rim. That cat could probably read the phone book in a way that would make me laugh. Day may be most famous for “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” but if you haven’t seen his perfect mastery of comic relief in Going The Distance, you’re missing out. He and Sudeikis made that movie 1000x more enjoyable
Ron Perlman — Drive: You could close your eyes and throw a dart at Perlman’s CV and find something worth putting on this list. Oh yeah, I’ll defend “Beauty And The Beast” with my dying breath. But Perlman’s menacing, larger than life performance in Drive was absolutely superb.
Charlie Hunnam — “Sons Of Anarchy”: I honestly don’t know how Kurt Sutter gets such a good performance out of Hunnam on “SOA,” but I do know it can be done. Hunnam is certainly not a great actor. This we know. But maybe if good ol’ Raleigh Beckett had been a strong, silent type, Pacific Rim would have worked better than it did.
Idris Elba — “Luther”: Idris Elba is perfection. We all agree. And he did the best out of any of these fine folks with the clunkers he was given. At least they didn’t make him use a Southern accent. (Lindelof/Scott, I’m looking at you.) Some performers are impervious. Elba may be one of them.
P.S. I’m contractually obliged to include this. Because it’s the best thing.