By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)
I got to see Pacific Rim this week, and let me say, if you want to watch aliens fighting robots, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a fun popcorn movie that just keeps amping up the stakes and the fights. The star of the movie is the great design of both the aliens and the robots.
The thing that got me thinking the most about this movie though was “the drift.” In the first few minutes of the movies (so I will not say spoiler alert, but still, if you don’t want to know anything about the movie, abandon all hope, ye who read on further) as the narrator (revealed to be Raleigh Becket played by Charlie Hunnam) talked about how the first attempt to build Jaegers (the robots) fried the mind of the single person involved so that the mental processing was moved to two people so they could share the burden. They had to link their minds and when they did, they existed together in the drift, sharing memories and sharing thoughts to power the massive Jaeger to battle the Kaiju (the monster aliens.)
Raleigh also gave us the added bit of exposition that the better you knew the person or the more in sync you were with a person, the better you’d connect and utilize the Jaeger. That’s where my mind started to wander and reflect.
Two minds meld and become one with all of the secrets and solitude bared for the other to see. That’s pretty damn impressive and scary. The Jaeger co-pilots that we see tend to mostly be related. Father and son. Brothers.
Two thoughts come to mind. The first one was, with whom would I drift if I could pilot a Jaeger? I’m lucky enough to have a sister, but would she be the best choice? Would there be people that would be closer to me and make a better connection? What happens to only children who want to be pilots? What would it be like to try to be a pilot with a friend and be told that you aren’t close enough? I find those questions interesting to ponder.
Second, the main driving point of Saving Private Ryan is the fear of an entire family of sons dying in service of their country. It’s not like piloting a Jaeger is a risk-free proposition. If you wanted to do that more than anything in the world, would you risk leaving your mother behind in order to save the world? At the same time, if you didn’t choose someone in your family, would you be comfortable with anyone else knowing your greatest fears and deepest desires?
I’m not going to call the Jaeger pilot conundrum a Sophie’s Choice because after reading that book, (such a marvelous book by William Styron) I don’t want to trivialize those words, but at the same point, here’s the situation. The world is in danger. You might be the best person to save the world. In order to save the world, you have to risk your own life and the life of a loved one. It’s not a recipe for happiness. So, I offer to you, the reader, if you were to choose your Jaeger co-pilot, who would it be?
I suppose I have to put forth some sort of answer to justify asking that of you. The short answer, I’m not sure. I can ask people to join me, but I would never compel them to do so. I couldn’t ask my father or my sister because they look after each other and my mother so well. I’d probably check with a few close friends and see who felt like kicking ass. Knowing my friends, I’d probably have more than one choice, though I’d try to dissuade the ones with families of their own. My answer? You’ll just have to wait for my answer when the Kaiju come. But don’t worry, you don’t have to share your answer either. Not if you don’t want to do so.
Editor’s Note: Check out this video of the Legendary Pictures booth at Comic-Con this weekend, and this interview with Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham:
More Comic-Con 2013 coverage coming this weekend!