Truthfully, the simple fact of the matter is that action movies don’t follow any different storytelling “rules” than other genres. Universal concepts such as setups and payoffs, clear and concise motivations, and cause and effect all hold true here as with any other kind of movie, but “Pacific Rim” truly sets itself apart from its peers in this particular sequence. It largely comes down to a steadily increasing sense of escalation.

Initially, Guillermo del Toro establishes what’s at stake by giving us our first action scene with multiple Jaegers in the fight … only to have them taken down by the kaiju with deflating ease. When our heroes are airlifted into the action, they’re working with one arm metaphorically tied behind their back since one monster has already made it to the mainland and is intent on ruining the day of some of our lovable supporting characters: Charlie Day’s Dr. Newton Geiszler and Ron Perlman’s mustache-twirling Hannibal Chau. By the time Raleigh and Mako fight their way into the city, del Toro holds back his ace in the sleeve until precisely the right moment. Just as our heroes appear to be gaining the upper hand on the second and last acid-spitting kaiju, it suddenly unfolds its wings and drags our heroes into the sky.

Look, does it make any logical sense to hold back a retractable sword ability until the last moment? Not really. Does it provide one of the best moments of the entire movie on a purely visceral level? You bet. The results speak for themselves, proving del Toro’s ability as a magician who thrives on playing the emotions of his audience like a fiddle. It all adds up to the standout highlight of the film and one of the decade’s most thrilling action sequences.