Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Rock (1996)

Seen: On blu-ray on our projector set-up, rented from Hollywood Express.

Ok last week the Brattle Theatre did a screening series celebrating Nicolas Cage ("Greatest American Actor"). The double screening of Con Air and The Rock was my most anticipated, but then they canceled The Rock, and I. Was. Devastated. Luckily we were able to rent the blu-ray and have a personal showing at our house, with pizza! The "story", as it were, concerns a group of pissed off Marines led by General Hummel (Ed Harris) who take over Alcatraz (and 80 tourist hostages) with a plan to unleash a deadly virus on San Francisco unless they get money from the US government to pay damages to wronged military families. FBI biological weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) and former British intelligence agent John Mason (Sean Connery), the only person to ever break out of Alcatraz, are sent in with a special team to navigate the prison's underground labyrinth and dismantle the weapons. There happens to be a lot of heavy-duty action setpieces along the way.

With a ridiculous premise and an even more ridiculous execution, The Rock is really a damned enjoyable action flick, reminding me that maybe Michael Bay can get his shit together once in a while and not suck so hard. Injecting the weird story with several exciting chase scenes and a number of nail-biting moments, he's produced a memorable movie that succeeds because of how over the top it is, not despite. I loved Connery's wacky long-haired hi-jinks and Cage's super nerdiness- they make an unexpectedly good team. Connery is obviously having a lot of fun essentially reprising James Bond, being sly all the time and thwacking Cage upside the head. Cage is adorable as a dude who doesn't cuss for some reason and it totally unprepared for this situation. And Ed Harris is a sort of sad villain, sympathetic because his cause is reasonable even if his means aren't. The cast is rounded out with David Morse, John C McGinley, John Spencer, and most excitingly, Michael Biehn! He shows up for two scenes playing a no-nonsense military guy (aka his favorite role!) and he's lookin' good. Then he dies OH WELL. There aren't any women except for Claire Forlani for two minutes and Vanessa Marcil as Cage's sexy girlfriend who won't fucking listen when he says, "DON'T COME TO SAN FRANCISCO". There isn't really room for ladies in this joint, you know?

The thing about The Rock is that it's crazy and awesome, but it's also wicked long and it drags at parts. It's fun and entertaining but doesn't quite hold up for its 136 minutes. And if I may be frank, not enough stuff explodes. I come in with certain expectations, Bay, and you should live up to them. But otherwise I am a fan of this movie.


Pair This Movie With: Well like I said, we paired this with Con Air and it was pretty great. But also maybe a James Bond movie with Sean Connery?


  1. This and Bad Boys are the only films by Michael Bay that I'll actually watch. The action isn't as crazy while you actually get a sense of what is going on. Everything else after that is just plain shit.