Building the Wall was Fridge Brilliance in itself. Riots were already breaking out worldwide over those rich and fortunate enough to settle inland. Constructing defensive structures on an epic scale was likely intended to give the billions of coastal poor, who’d otherwise overrun inland refuge settlements, a false sense of protection and purpose. Also, it's likely the governments knew that the Kaiju were attracted to population centers, so maintaining mass metropolitan populations on the coastline was likely very, very intentional. Dispersing the coastal population along the Wall they were building lowers the number who would die in a single Kaiju attack.
Humans know how to deal with Rifts now. It takes a few years to "expand" a Rift to be able to emit multiple Kaiju at a time. Even if another one opens, just wrap up a nuclear bomb in Kaiju flesh and chuck it in. Hannibal has some. Yes, it will cost a lot; but less than nuking cities or making more Jeagers.
Otachi and Leatherback taking down Cherno Alpha, Crimson Typhoon, and Striker Eureka:
Taking down all three in short order appears to be the Worf Effect, especially how they're introduced. Then you recall that before the two Kaiju appeared, Newt Drifted with a Kaiju brain, meaning that the Kaiju learned what Jaegers were left, and tailored Otachi and Leatherback specifically to fight Cherno, Crimson, and Striker.
Another possibility (the idea that the Kaiju were reformatted/built within a few hours a little dubious) is simply that since the 'Makers' are stepping up their attack efforts by sending two Kaiju at once, it makes sense that they started adapting the Kaiju to counter specific Jeagers. Both Cherno and Crimson are older models, so the 'Makers' have had a lot of time to study them, and Striker, with it's high kill-count, is a priority target, hence the EMP.
When Mako says she's striking for the honor of her family, is she talking about her original family, Stacker's family, or both?
At first, Mako's memory scene comes off as cheesy. One girl running from a giant monster in a barren, seemingly abandoned city without even any other bodies, and when she finally sees her savior it is backlit from the sun and overly heroic. Ridiculously cheesy, right? Well remember, this isn't reality, this is a MEMORY. And our own memories are colored by how we perceive them. This isn't a memory of how the event actually happened, but a memory of how MAKO saw the event. SHE saw a monster, possibly bigger than it actually was. SHE saw just herself running from it, the monster focused on her. SHE saw her savior, standing atop their mech and looking down at her in such an amazing view. The reality may have been different, but that is how SHE remembered it. Pentecost himself outright implies that this is the case. "I don't care what you think you saw."
Maybe the reason why the Russians piloting the older suits don't have the same radiation poisoning as those piloting other models (like Pentecost) is because post-Chernobyl the Russian team building them is more scrupulous about radiation shielding. Plus, Cherno Alpha's reactor is above the pilots, the only Jaegers to have that configuration. Now look at how big and chunky it's pilots helmets and shoulderpads are — they might have backup shielding in their suits.
It's mentioned that Kaiju decompose rapidly. While the Kaiju's creators may not have known about how Drifting works, the rapid decomposing of Kaiju is still an effective method of preventing the enemy from studying them.
The Multi National Team that saves the world applies on a meta level to the film itself. It's an American homage to every single Japanese work of popular science fiction ever, directed by a Mexican.
This movie takes the cliche of the hero and splits it in half. Mako and Raleigh form two variations on the classic hero story; the rookie who suffered a traumatic past and seeks to avenge her family and the old guard, who suffered a traumatic incident in battle but is looking to return for one last hurrah.
Trespasser, Knifehead, and Scunner all have similar body structuresnote large primary arms with a hole in the forearm, two smaller arms besides, a shell-like back cover, a somewhat spaded tail, an efficient biting mouth, and a prominent offensive head crest and consequently feel like the former's Suspiciously Similar Substitute. While it can be explained that the Kaiju creators were simply reusing body parts, it can be assumed that they probably built around a stock design that gets modified for individual tasks. Also, they found what worked in the previous Kaiju, as Knifehead disabled Gipsy Danger and Trespasser proved relatively efficient for what was presumably a Category 1.
Raleigh handily thrashes Chuck (an Australian!) in a punch-up. How? Raleigh grew up with a brother to tussle with. It also handily explains how a Mark-3 Jaeger can beat the holy hell out of two Category 4 Kaiju that just destroyed 3 Jaegers...Raleigh is insanely good as a hand to hand combatant. His fight with Chuck is practically a curb stomp battle...and Mako can keep up with him easily. Gipsy Danger may be slower, older, and less well armed/armored than Striker Eureka but it has the two most dangerous hand to hand combatants in the film at the helm. You'll notice that Striker Eureka, Cherno Alpha and especially Crimson Typhoon use the same general tactics and fighting styles in all their fights — Striker typically knocks around a Kaiju for a minute before going for the chest missiles, Cherno has been fighting (apparently non-stop) for ten years, and Crimson Typhoon has had the same tactic in use for so long that even Raleigh, who's been out of the game for five years, was familiar with it. After the timeskip, it is explicitly said that the Kaiju are adapting to their tactics (with Herc Hansen standing right there), and yet the Jaeger pilots continue to use the same moves even as the Kaiju mix things up. Gipsy doesn't, in accordance with Raleigh's improvisational fighting style that carries over to the Jaeger fights — using cargo containers as knuckle dusters and a freaking oil tanker as a bat — and thus the Kaiju can't plan for Gipsy as well as they did for Striker, Cherno or Crimson. During their fight, literally the second Chuck starts countering Raleigh's moves, he changes styles, keeping him off balance. One of the biggest problems the individual Kaiju have is lack of adaptability - and it bites them in the ass every time.
The battle between Gipsy Danger and the Kaiju in Hong Kong:
Raleigh is frequently telling Mako what to do next despite the fact that they are mind-connected through the Drift. At first, it seems like he's doing it for the audience. But that's not the case: notice that Mako's movements come just a little after Raleigh's, at least until Otachi lifts them in the air. Raleigh has the lead in this fight and Mako tries to keep up with his movements and tactics. He's simply making it easier for her by telling her out loud. Later in the battle, when Gipsy Danger is almost in orbit and he's out of ideas, she takes the lead and points out that they still have the sword; now he's copying her moves.
Also note that this is their first action together. Even with the Neural Handshake and a strong Drift compatibility, a fresh team-up runs the risk of falling apart easily because of differing ideas in how to tackle the situation, no matter how compatible the numbers make them out to be. Raleigh and Mako are an example of the classic rookie-veteran team-up, and most often this particular team-up will have a show of the two polar forces contradicting each others intentions, usually during their first action. Fortunately for this team, Raleigh understands Mako's potential and trusts her, even before their first Neural Handshake, so his directions gives Mako the needed edge to make sure they stay on form during the fights. The following fight scenes see less of Raleigh directing Mako, their teamwork having improved dramatically.
Otachi is the first Kaiju with a demonstrated ability to fly. This, after the humans started working on the wall. Given that the Kaiju Builders didn't know whether the human wall would end up being strong enough to keep the Kaiju out, it makes perfect sense that they would start working on a countermeasure. Though Scissure, the fourth Kaiju, had wings as well, though its unknown if it could fly.
The last time the Precursors tried to invade Earth (only to find the atmospheric conditions weren't right for them) was 65 million years ago. What creatures were running around Earth 65 million years ago? Dinosaurs. Looking at the appearances of most of the Kaiju, it seems like they may have taken a certain amount of inspiration in their designs when creating them.
If one thinks about it, Pacific Rim is, in a way, a proof of Ozymandias' plan in Watchmen. (Spoilers for that comic) The movie is about the whole world (or at least, those nations on the Pacific Rim) putting aside its international differences for the purpose of fighting hugely-powerful inter-dimensional aliens. Granted, things don't go as rosily here (mainly because the threat is real), but the part of the plan about ending international tensions worked like a charm.
Pentecost's convincing of Raleigh to return to being Jaeger pilot instead of remaining a construction worker in Alaska includes him asking "Where would you rather die? Here? Or in a Jaeger?" Pentecost is dying of radiation poisoning. What he's saying isn't just an inspirational line for Raleigh, he's speaking from experience; Pentecost would also rather leave this life knowing he was doing something he felt worthy doing, rather than waste away. And at the end of the movie, that's exactly what he does.
It really says just how powerful Striker Eureka is when the Precursors had to use an EMP to stop it. Temporarily. They were able to find strategies to easily destroy Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha but could not find a way to do the same to Striker. And in the fight with Slattern, a Category 5, the Kaiju had to call for help against Striker Eureka. What better way to go up against a Mark-5, the newest, most advanced Jaeger, than with a Category 5, the newest, most advanced Kaiju.
The two Kaiju sent against Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon, Leatherback and Otachi, respectively match their abilities. Crimson Typhoon has three arms, Otachi fights with its two arms and Prehensile Tail. Cherno Alpha has massive fists combined with Tesla cells, Leatherback likewise has huge fists and an EMP ability.
Just as Mako was saved from Onibaba by its being distracted by Coyote Tango, she in turn got to save Newt by distracting Otachi in Gipsy Danger, although she probably is unaware of this.
Each Jaeger has certain traits that match their pilots.
Aside from its three arms/piloted by the Wei triplets, Crimson Typhoon is built like a basketball player/martial artist, which fits the Wei triplets' background as street fighters and their love for basketball.
Cherno Alpha is the tallest and bulkiest Jaeger, fitting the also very tall and bulky Kaidanovskys. It briefly uses an elbow drop and a headlock on a Kaiju, alluding to Robert Maillet's wrestling career.
Striker Eureka resembles a male brawler (befitting to an Australian Jaeger) and is the youngest and best Jaeger built out of the remaining four. Chuck Hansen is the youngest pilot and considered one of the best.
Gipsy Danger was broken and injured like Raleigh after fighting Knifehead, retiring for five years. It took Mako to get both of them back in action by rebuilding Gipsy Danger and becoming the co-pilot for Raleigh.
This turns into Wild Mass Guessing, but this movie's worldbuilding does set up a justification for the presence of people on rooftops, filming the Kaiju attack instead of running for their lives. When Kaiju attacks are a regular occurrence, and the Kaiju are evolving and changing with each go-round, video documentation of each Kaiju attack and (hopefully) defeat is of the utmost importance, so that the PPDC can study the Kaiju and prepare for the next one. I wouldn't be surprised if the PPDC subsidizes professional emergency camera crews on hand in every major Pacific city; maybe there's a rewards systems in place (rations cards?) for found footage shot by amateurs, if it's more informative.
Compare and contrast:
Hellboy: Ron Perlman plays Hellboy (an appropriated nickname), a an emotionally-driven monster-fighting secret agent demon who's constantly chafing at the bit of authority. His most distinctive features, besides his red skin, are his fist and his firearm.
Pacific Rim: Ron Perlman plays Hannibal Chau (a chosen pseudonym) a cold, logical, intelligent businessman who operates more or less openly and profits off of the remains of monsters. He effectively is the authority. His most distinctive features are his shoes and his knife. His clothing is mostly red.
It's just a little thing, but when Gottlieb is explaining the numbers and mentions God, and Geiszler scoffs in the background up to his elbows in Kaiju organs, they accurately reflect the real-life fact that, among scientists, the highest proportion of religious believers is found among mathematicians, and the lowest among biologists.
Just from the beginning of the movie — in a world where the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, that guy and his kid resorted to scavenging for scrap metal, likely to go into Jeager-building to make money. And a bit of Fridge Horror, but the metal scraps they're more likely find is from other cities sent into the ocean by Kaiju attacks.
The movie has book ends: The plot is kicked off when Gipsy Danger is brought down by Knifehead; signaling that the Jaegers weren't invincible. It ends with the Gipsy Danger bringing down the Kaiju production facility; signaling that the Precursor's Rift wasn't unbreachable. The movie both starts and ends on one side realizing that their finest weapons have failed.
Gipsy kills Leatherback with its Plasma Cannon. After the long charge-up time that let Knifehead wreak all kinds of havoc on Gipsy, they seem to have upgraded, because now Gipsy can fire immediately and multiple times without waiting for it to charge.
The Kaiju are cloned and have two separate brains, so in a way they're Drifting to control a giant creature/robot, too.
Knifehead's battle with Gipsy Danger:
Yancy uses the Plasma Cannon on Gipsy Danger's right arm against the Kaiju, and then the next time this weapon's about to be used, it's Raleigh using the left arm's Plasma Cannon, and Knifehead immediately counters before it can finish charging. Later, though, Raleigh manages to finish him off with a Plasma Cannon shot after a long charging time. Why didn't the Kaiju block it this time? Because this time Raleigh was using Gipsy Danger's right arm, and Knifehead had taken out the pilot on the right side of the Jaeger. Knifehead stopped paying attention to the right arm because he thought it no longer presented a threat; Kaiju know how Jaegers work.
And even if they don't know exactly how Jaegers work with the two-pilot system, Knifehead was ripping into the left side of Gipsy's chest and tearing at whatever it could reach. After Mako and Raleigh's aborted first Drift, we see them sitting and looking at the plating on the left side of Gipsy's chest being removed for some reason. The reactor is precisely where Knifehead was attacking. It may have considered Gipsy neutralized when it killed Yancy, and was going for the reactor as a way to make sure it wasn't put back into action.
After the double event, Hannibal Chau marks a spot on the map, saying "that's where the Kaiju fell, that's where we'll focus our efforts." It initially seems strange that he'd focus on what was left of Otachi after it fell from fifty thousand feet (whatever was left would probably be pulp), but then you realize that Leatherback's corpse was probably in even worse shape.
It seems odd that Striker Eureka (and to the same extent, Crimson Typhoon)'s systems being "digital" meant it was more vulnerable to Leatherback's EMP than the nuclear Gipsy Danger and Cherno Alpha. Danger had core systems that still would've been lost if EMP'd. But being "digital" was referring to the connection between the pilots and the Jaeger, not the power systems. Think about it — in the prologue we clearly see Yancy and Raleigh's braces connected to a multitude of pistons and gears that move in conjunction with their movements. They were directly connected to Gipsy's drive motors through the braces. Meanwhile, we don't see the same exposed machinery in Eureka or Typhoon. Being "digital" likely means that computerized systems "read" the movements the pilots make via the braces, and then make the motors respond appropriately — reducing the exertion level for the pilots and allowing for movements not possible through standard movement (e.g. Typhoon's lower-torso-rotation). If the power is lost — the connection is severed, and there's no way of controlling the Jaeger — hence, Eureka going limp. An "analogue" Jaeger has a direct connection between the pilots and the motors, so even if the systems stop working, the pilots are still somewhat capable of controlling the mech, albeit with more effort needed and a possible HUD loss. Striker and Crimson both being digital through this definition also connects to them being faster and more agile than their analogue counterparts, Gipsy and Cherno, both of which are slower models.
Gipsy being unaffected by the EMP. Being nuclear, it already put out a lot of radiation of its own. In order to deal with that, it would need more shielding just to protect itself from its own electro magnetic radiation.So naturally it'll be more resistant to an EMP.
Coyote Tango has a very American name, and according to the toy, is covered in USAF roundels. And its pilots are two Brits. So why is it a Japanese Jaeger? Because Japan isn't allowed to have a standing armed forces.
At first it seems that there's nothing particular about the ease at which Striker disposed of Mutavore, series of uppercuts followed by the chest missiles. But remember that Mutavore's eyes are inexplicably underneath its mouth. And those common uppercuts become effectively eye gouging lead ups to the finishing move. Never saw it coming.
Those little helicopters accompanying Jaegers during missions won't do much outside of carrying the mechas to battle. But they worked pretty well as eye in the sky or a warning system for the gigantic Jaegers. Consider the weather during Hong Kong fight, how Kaijus are destroying surface environment and how Raleigh reported low visibility under water.
Why did Scunner attack Gypsy Danger unrelentingly until Slattern called in for back up? Well consider how much of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute he is for Knifehead. Dual sets of split arms, sharp head ornaments, shell on back; and large mouth for biting. Now consider the Precursors were actively changing and adapting the kaiju to better deal with the Jaegars. They knew Gypsy Danger was a threat so they created a kaiju based on the last one of their forces that took Gypsy out. Scunner was made to be a bigger, stronger, more dangerous version of Knifehead specially make to take out Gypsy. Now recall the Hive Mind the kaiju had. If Scunner had Knifehead's memories it make sense for him to go after Gypsy, it remembered getting killed by it.
The Kaiju came out of the Pacific, and a wall was made in the Pacific Rim to hopefully keep the Kaiju out.
There are a lot of islands in the Pacific that are inhabited, and Oceania has about 36 million people as of 2011. Even if you take out Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand, the population is still in the millions. What happened to the people in the Pacific islands? Did they have to evacuate their homes entirely? Or were they essentially left to the Kaiju after the first wave? Did they even have an opportunity to evacuate or be evacuated?
Considering the Plan B was to wall off the Pacific Ocean from Kaiju... what if there were people still left in the Pacific who couldn't get off? Areas like the Pitcairn Islands are extremely remote — for all we know the people on the Pitcairn Islands or Tahiti were left huddling in their homes in fear waiting for the day a boat or a plane finally comes to rescue them, not knowing if they'll soon become a snack to Kaiju.
Given how many of the islands in Oceania's economy is dependent on tourism, when the film takes place, nobody will go out for a vacation in the tropical paradises of the Pacific anymore — and given how much damage the Jaegers and Kaiju have done to the fishing scene, there'll probably be almost nothing for the Pacific islanders to go back to after the events of the movie.
Think of all the damage that was probably done to the oceans' ecosystem by the Jaegers or the Kaiju. The Great Barrier Reef, along with many other reefs, are probably in pieces and will never recover.
Imagine the damage Slattern could have done if he had made landfall, considering the damage he withstood at the hands of Striker and Gipsy. Remember what Dr. Geizler said about 'the extermination wave isn't even here yet'. That leaves two possibilities: a) The main body of the invasion is an entire army of Slatterns. Or b) The main body of the invasion is an entire army of something even worse. It's possible the extermination wave was simply a gigantic army of Kaiju (in two scenes, Newt's first Drift and then Gipsy arriving at the Kaiju base, we can see a whole line of what looks like an army of Knifeheads hovering in the air), but still, it's a scary thought either way.
The first battles against Trespasser and the other pre-Jaeger Kaiju were probably the the most horrific things ever experienced by a soldier. Imagine fighting a creature the size of an apartment building though streets pockmarked with crater sized footprints, some filled with — unpleasant remains. Being forced to clear corpse riddled debris for fighting vehicles to maneuver through. Knowing that you could be attacked from any direction, with your only hope for survival being the alleys and side streets. God help you if you're in a tank and the thing comes storming out of an adjacent road, the turret probably couldn't turn fast enough, even if you had air support calling out its location. Now, imagine six days of that. It's probably a good thing Raleigh skimmed over the opening bit.
Chuck is in his father's head on a regular basis, seeing his father's memories. His father, who has memories of conceiving Chuck. No wonder poor Chuck acts like a jerk all the time...
Being a Child Soldier probably didn't help his emotional issues, either. It's revealed that Chuck was enlisted in the Jaeger Academy at age 12 in 2015, was first deployed in Striker Eureka at 16 in 2019, and has the highest Kaiju kill count in history at 21 in 2025. Herc even admits that Chuck was "raised in the cockpit", which couldn't have been healthy for a young, traumatized boy. And when you consider how royally screwed up most Real Life child soldiers are (especially those who started fighting before the age of 17), it shouldn't be surprising that Chuck has some very serious emotional and social problems. He was literally raised to kill Kaiju in a Crapsack World, not to interact with other humans or people his own age.
Suppressing feelings of fear or guilt is a common theme in molding effective child soldiers in real life. Chuck vehemently refuses to show either of these emotions and acts extremely hostile when someone wrongs him in any way. It's likely that such a belief had been drilled into his mind since age 12 and unlike an emotionally and physically mature adult, he was never able to differentiate between the appropriate time to suppress those emotions and the appropriate time to release them off the battlefield.
His initial animosity towards Raleigh may be due to concern about the latter's ability to do his job, but there are other reasons. Based on film and supplemental data, Raleigh is the only pilot to flat-out quit the Jaeger program. All other pilots have been either killed or reassigned (like Pentecost). Yes, Raleigh lost his brother, but Chuck lost his mother, entire extended family, and had to see many of his fellow pilots fall during the past five years. (Striker Eureka wasn't Australia's only Jaeger, just its only surviving one.) To Chuck, Raleigh did Screw This, I'm Outta Here! not only to humanity's best defense, but to a program he spent his entire adult life in.
So, you think that Hannibal Chau will be perfectly fine after cutting himself out of Otachi Jr.? You might want to rethink that seeing as how he ends up absolutely covered in Kaiju Blue...
Remember the boat that Yancy and Raleigh went out to get against orders? We never find out what happened to it...
So Otachi and Leatherback were sent specifically after Newt, and have no trouble finding him in Hong Kong. How did they know to go to Hong Kong, much less track him to the exact Kaiju bunker he was in? Newt is still connected to the Hive Mind.
The Kaiju aren't just going for the population centers. All the Jaegers were moved to Hong Kong (presumably that's the closest battle-station to the Breach). They're deliberately going for the Jaegers, eliminating any remaining threats to their attacks. How do they know this? Newt told them inadvertently.
Considering what the neural load of piloting a Jaeger solo does to a human (bloody sclera and nosebleeds), chances are good that even with the Drift to share the load, piloting a Jaeger isn't doing anything good for the pilots lifespans. Fighting giant monsters aside, putting that level of strain on the brain can't be healthy.
Otachi Junior was still deadly. Suppose instead of sending through one or more huge Kaiju, the Precursors sent through the equivalent mass in baby Kaiju. Jaegers are designed to fight big enemies, not massive swarms of small ones.