Pacific Rim Uprising may not have set the world alight, leaving the future of the franchise uncertain, but the sequel does make one thing abundantly clear: John Boyega is a bona fide movie star.
Uprising to middling reviews but is still projected to debut atop the domestic box office, bringing an end to the record-breaking streak of Black Panther. The sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 sci-fi action-adventure is one of the more unexpected blockbusters of the year: it's a movie tailor-made to cater to international audiences, particularly in China; it only features a handful of the first movie's cast; and it's not a franchise with a zealous fan-base who were crying out for more. Still, its success signals several things to us, the main one being the now undeniable power of its leading man. We knew John Boyega was good before, and has been for many years, but now, he's truly made it
Even in the most damning reviews Pacific Rim Uprising has received, Boyega’s performance and sheer magnetism have been commended. Playing the role of Jake Pentecost, son of the late Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (played in the first film by Idris Elba), Boyega had a fresh opportunity to remind audiences of his old-school movie-star charm, and he did it with serious aplomb. Ethan Sacks of the New York Daily News compared Boyega's character to Han Solo, and it's easy to see why.
This Page: How John Boyega Became A Star
John Boyega is the Best Thing in Pacific Rim Uprising
Regardless of the material - and with Pacific Rim Uprising, the characterizations and dialogue are pretty thin in terms of substance - Boyega manages to elevate it with such ease that he makes it seem effortless. It's no mean feat following in the footsteps of Idris Elba, currently one of the most charismatic actors working, but if there is a man for the job, it's Boyega. When the endless barrage of giant robots punching giant monsters begins to wear thin, it's Boyega who continues to hold your interest. It would be unfair and inaccurate to make direct comparisons between him and movie-star predecessors, but when critics put his name in the same sentence as Harrison Ford, you wholeheartedly understand why. He follows in major footsteps, but Boyega is inimitably his own man.
Boyega may be best known to the world as Finn, but he's been impressing audiences since his big-screen debut in Joe Cornish's criminally underrated sci-fi Attack the Block. As one of an ensemble of mostly unknown actors, Boyega stole the show as Moses, a troubled kid living on a council estate who becomes a hero in the most unlikely manner once aliens begin to invade the tower block he resides in. For most of the film’s running time, you can’t take your eyes off him. Moses is quiet but already cynical about his lot in life, and Boyega has to walk this fine line between tough and tender. There are times where Boyega breaks the viewers' hearts with a mere smile.
Pacific Rim 2 Reveals What Star Wars Hid
Moses was the sort of performance that should make its actor an undeniable star, but while it did garner Boyega both attention and awards, it took a couple more years for him to truly get his dues. Fortunately, that happened with a little film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The role of Finn allows Boyega to exude his natural charm, blended with a more comedic slant as his character acts as the audience’s viewpoint into the new age of the franchise. Finn is earnest but frequently clueless, often heroic but prone to panic at the prospect. If anyone in the Star Wars franchise could be described as truly "relatable", it's Finn, and that's thanks to Boyega's work.
If the franchise centered entirely on Finn, you know Boyega would pull that feat off with ease. However, as wonderful as he is in Star Wars, he often doesn’t get much to do, at least compared to co-stars like Daisy Ridley. The franchise has helped him to hone his leading man skills, but in order to show them off to the best of his abilities, he needed his own blockbuster, hence Pacific Rim Uprising.
Boyega Runs Circles Around Scott Eastwood
Boyega isn't just the undisputed star of Pacific Rim Uprising: he's the leading man who's acting circles around his co-stars. Scott Eastwood, son of Clint and actor from The Fate of the Furious, is such a charisma drain in the film that, if he were the star of the project, it may have sunk without a trace. He simply cannot compare to Boyega in terms of magnetism or range, and it shows in the scenes they share together. Once upon a time, it would have been Eastwood, Hollywood royalty and increasingly the spitting image of his dad, garnering the title of future movie star. That Boyega takes that mantle, no debate needed, is a great sign of Hollywood's future.
- Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) release date: Mar 23, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019