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"The Rock" combined action, adventure, comedy, romance, special effects and a great plot into one of the biggest worldwide blockbuster action films in decades. Add to the mix, Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris and a great supporting cast including John Spencer, William Forsythe and David Morse, and "The Rock" is one of the best ways to spend two hours. This film also devotes a great deal of time and effort to character development, something that most action movies neglect. This film is definitely underrated and is worth more praise than it has received.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What can I say other than Connery at his best as usual? It's good to
see Hollywood remembers the best. It's also good to see an American
film portray us little Brits in such high regard.
When else would you see a 60+ year old retired SAS agent who's been wrongfully banged up for 30 years and kept away from his daughter, break back into Alcatraz (after successfully breaking out all those years ago), take out an entire SEAL team almost empty handed, save 81 hostages held at gun point and a city of 5 Million held ransom with 15 deadly poisonous VX gas rockets?? Generally excellent acting by Ed Harris as you could expect and an almost convincing performance by Nicolas Cage.
...and thats just the half of it.
The Rock was an awesome film to see in the cinema. Over the top action, amasing driving scenes, an all round enjoyable film. Excellent casting of Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, interesting idea, ex-military take tour hostage and threaten chemical warfare. But it's all in a days work for the FBI. Scientist risks life and limb to rescue city while pregnant girlfriend looks on. Sean Connery' character is portrayed as a hard ex SAS spy and Nicholas Cage is the mild mannered Scientist/Chemical Expert. Good film, not too taxing on the brain and overall, very enjoyable! A must see for Action Fans.
This movie is all a man could hope for in a movie these days. Action
packed, but followed with a meaningful story that relates to today. The
harsh reality is, what takes place within the movie is not too far off
from what could happen in reality. I feel that if anyone fears domestic
terrorism as well as foreign terrorism, this movie is a must see, while
it bends the facts a tad for action and interest sake, its central
story is compelling and thought-provoking.
The best quote of this movie: "This isn't about terrorism, this about justice. It's about reminding you people of something you find politically convenient to forget."
This is a brilliantly original movie that sees a USMC General out to get justice for the betrayal of fellow soldiers during various conflicts. Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris are all on top-form in their roles as an SAS former convict (Connery), an easy-going government chemical weapons expert (Cage) and a disgruntled war hero (Harris). The bulk of the movie takes place on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, where Ed Harris' character has stolen poison gas rockets and is holding the city to ransom. Michael Bay delivers brilliant action sequences with massive enthusiasm, resulting in high-octane scenes. The movie also bosts a powerful and emotional score right from the opening credits. The movie never gets boring or confusing and is dazzling all the way to the final, explosive climax. This is a movie best suited to die hard action fans due to it's loud, over-the-top style. Michael Bay proves to be one of the best action film directors with this movie which is one of the best of 1996.
The Rock is one of my all-time favorite suspense - thrillers.
Believability - almost always a problem for this sort of film - is
enhanced by a very compelling script, sets, and powerful performances
by masters Sean Connery and Ed Harris. Like a good work of fiction,
it's the quality of the telling that makes it believable, not the
likelihood that it might happen. There are no problems with the way
this story is told. The acting, editing, directing and visuals do not
slip at all. Nick Cage - in a performance which approaches his best
work - adds a bit of campiness and humor to this explosive mixture, and
John Spencer, Tony Todd, David Morse, and Michael Biehn all contribute
substantially to an exciting, fast-paced and emotionally draining film.
Any avid movie-goer will be hard pressed to find a single actor in this
sizable cast who has not either become a major star or a fine character
actor over the last nine years.
The plot takes a number of twists and turns along the road, so to discuss almost any aspect of it in detail would require at least mild spoilers. None of the plot twists are unbelievable if you are willing to accept the basic premise. The story begins with Ed Harris - a Viet Nam war hero and field leader who is now a general and has become fed up with the abandonment of covert forces operatives by the US government. To get what he wants, he recruits some of the best officers under his command to take control of and hold Alcatraz Island, holding 70-some-odd civilians hostage and aiming four missiles loaded with deadly Sarin gas directly at the heart of San Francisco.
Biehn heads an elite Navy SEAL team assigned to infiltrate and disable Harris' capabilities. Cage joins him as the FBI biochemical specialist assigned the task of disarming the warheads, and the only man who can get them in to do their respective jobs is an aging British intelligence agent who has been incarcerated for 30 years or so by the government that now needs his help. Connery's John Mason escaped from Alcatraz during his incarceration, and for all intents and purpose - is a much rougher, more real James Bond character without the gadgets and the comic-book super-villains. All of the above is established in the first ten minutes of the film and the next two hours is a wild ride, with some very tense moments and some very intense performances.
I'm sure a lot of people will pick this film apart for the occasional unbelievable scene, etc, but it's worth while to remember - as my spouse is always telling me - "its only a movie".
If you want reality, take a walk outside or go to work!
There are no discernible powerful political messages in this film. While it must be acknowledged that the USA does sometimes treat members of its armed forces in an unappreciative and cavalier manner, this film does not really drive this point home in the way that, for example, Saving Private Ryan did. While it is also true that the US government does occasionally cover-up its own illegal activities, or soft-pedal them with propagandistic white lies, these issues are not really the subject of this film. This is made abundantly clear by the oddly out-of-place references to Roswell, New Mexico. The writers either did not want to dignify any perceived political messages by bringing up real-world transgressions and cover-ups - many of which are far more sinister than the secret development of stealth planes. This film is pure entertainment and - at that - a work of art. Treat it as such and you might just have a good time with it.
"The Rock" is an action movie, alright, but it's an action move about its
characters, and that's what saves it. It has a strong cast and strong
characters and therefore the plot, about a militia group taking Alcatraz
hostage and threatening to fire bombs into San Francisco if they don't get
100 million dollars, isn't what comes off the best.
There are four central characters in this film. Hummel is the man in charge of this hostage takeover. He is a highly-ranked general who is doing this to teach the government a lesson: they've been neglecting forgotten soldiers who died in the Gulf and Nam, and instead of their families being told the truth, they've simply been marked as "Missing in Action." He is played by Ed Harris, who does such a good man torn between duty, conscience, and vengeance, he is the best film villain since Jack Nicholson in "The Shining."
Goodspeed is a computer nerd working for the C.I.A. He's never been in combat situations, but because of his advanced knowledge of chemical bombs, they've sent him into Alcatraz with a group of Navy SEALS, and he has no idea how to react in war-like situations. Played by Nicolas Cage, his performance is believable and powerful.
Anderson is the man in control of the Navy SEALS on the mission to Alcatraz. Tough as nails, bound by duty, he freely admits he agrees with Hummel's reasoning, but he says those are risks that are part of the job, and Hummel is wrong in his action because he took an oath to serve his country no matter what. He is played by Michael Biehn, who delivers a top-notch performance, and one similar to his role in "Terminator."
But the most powerful character in the film is Mason, the only man who has ever escaped from Alcatraz. Tough, cunning, and full of one-liners, he has been caged up in a maximum security prison for years. It's hard to say whether the viewer can trust him or not, and he has many secrets and much knowledge of the facility...which is why he was chosen to go with the SEALS. He is played by Sean Connery, who's performance is perfectly Sean Connery-ish. But who would want it any other way?
This film is great, and it is a great character study for anyone who might be majoring in it or just likes to watch films with good casts. Recommended. ****1/2 out of *****.
THE ROCK / (1996) ***1/2
Starring: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Jon Spencer, David Morse, William Forsythe, Bokeem Woodbine, and Vanessa Marcil. Directed by Michael Bay. Running time: 135 minutes. Rated R (for strong intense violence, language and brief sexuality)
Notes taken while screening The Rock:
· The film contains superior character development of both the antagonist and protagonist. Each is clear and well defined. We also learn the characters motives, reasoning, dramatic situation, and premise--all brilliantly introduced within the setup.
· Sean Connery provides us with strong character development through John Patrick Mason--although the character is somewhat a rip off of the Anthony Hokins' Hannibal from "The Silence of the Lambs."
· It is uncanny how well the movie's visual style works. It propels the film's suspense the extra mile, increasing the tension and enticement. Also contributing to the style is the fitting soundtrack.
· Some of the events are excessively coincidental. For example, during an exciting chase scene, Mason dashes out of a building, escaping the clutches of concealing police, discovering a Hum-V seemingly awaiting his arrival. Experienced chemist, Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), chases after him, in a high speed Ferrari sitting outside his position in a building. Another coincidence occurs in the high security prison, where Mason escapes a grenade blast by dashing at random into a room, where, of course, there just so happens to be a secure bathtub to climb in.
· There is a stolid, aggressively effective cast present. Each actor contributes a taut, penetrating performance, especially Ed Harris as the film's villain, General Francis X. Hummel who demands a moral purpose holding the lives of an urban area at stake.
* The character's motives and perfectly defined, especially General Francis X. Hummel. Even as the film's bad guy, he serves an understandable position, thus we empathize with him, unlike most villains witnessed in modern day thrillers.
· The standard three act structure is flawless: each scene propels the plot forward. The sequences either create a new problem or complicate a previous conflict, favoring with the later concept. This raises the line of tension even further.
· Most of the production takes place in a high security prison, Alcatraz, crafted with a complex, awe-inspiring atmosphere towering over that of most action movies.
· Sean Connery handles the complicated role of John Mason with mere simplicity, yet easily torments the audience with a sense of omniscient knowledge of the plot.
· The picture is unpredictable and contains several inducing and unexpected twists proving this movie is imaginative and free to surprise us. The conclusion is not fomulatic. "The Rock" is filled with artful design and crafty performances. It is one of the year's best action films.
Brought to you by Hollywood Pictures.
Fantastically made. Undoubtedly one of the best action films in the
last 20 years, Bruckheimer had a fantastic effect on this as his oh so
loud impact fashioned this movie into what it is, quite possibly one of
the finest in its' genre. Connery puts in a sturdy performance as does
Cage but the show is stolen by the one and only Edd harris. His
commanding performance carried the movie through small snippets where
boredom may have set in, his emotion in the delivery of his lines left
nothing to be desired and the role seemed so fitting for such a man,
although his height was comic in comparison with the other marines.
All round great film with good acting with just the right amount of comic relief when it was most required. thumbs up fellas
The 90s was home to a slew of great raw, uncut, action flicks that shot
straight for the rated "R," despite the guarantee that it would make
less money than the money-friendly PG-13 rating. While Die Hard and
Lethal Weapon may have jump-started this craze, the peak of this was
during the next decade, when we saw the likes of Terminator 2, Speed,
Face-Off, Con Air, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, The Matrix, Bad Boys,
Point Break, Under Siege, True Lies, Desperado, among others (Quite a
list I accumulated, eh?). The 90s was certainly a good decade for
action fans, but few movies of this genre can quite top the powerful,
gripping, and edge-of-your seat action blockbuster The Rock. The name
alone sounds powerful, and behind it is two hours of incredible special
effects, superb acting, great action set pieces, and good dosage of
writing, and Michael Bay on top of his game.
Few action movies carries as much morality and questionable circumstances as this one. In The Rock we follow a furious general (Ed Harris) leading a group of Marines to take control of Alcatraz Island (along with tourist hostages), a location that used to house criminals. Accompanying them are over a dozen missiles that can spell tens of thousands of innocent lives with every blast. However, he isn't just a trigger-happy man gone crazy, he is a man seeking justice for the dozens of lives he saw taken from warfare without compensation. A villain with a "moral" agenda, yikes. The only hope for the United States is the only man that has ever broken out of that prison (Sean Connery) and a chemical "superfreak" (Nicholas Cage). With the odds obviously against them, the Pentagon is one order away from destroying the entire location regardless of the innocent lives located in the island. Mindless this movie is not, as the stakes are high, there is always a risk of an innocent life going under, and our heroes rarely ever have the scenario under control. It's just enough to make you squeal in frustration.
With the tension remaining edgy and the solution never being oh-so-close, we can thank the writers for delivering a slam-bang storyline full of great one-liners, likable characters, and a villain that isn't as simple to figure out as the average evildoer. The writing staff ranges from the writer of the third Die Hard to even Tarantino. A major reason for the film's quality is the casting. Sean Connery and Ed Harris are excellent in their roles and Nicholas Cage albeit a few lines does a good job. The supporting staff helps as well, as we see the likes of David Morse, John Spencer, and Cage's love interest Vanessa Marcil.
Unlike Michael Bay's latest films, which run from mediocre to just plain bad, he blends plenty of drama and suspense along with action here. As a matter of fact, the first half of the movie is all suspense, as the situation is developed, and the risks are presented. Disregarding a superb car chase, there isn't much exploding in the first 80 minutes. However, once the protagonists enter the Rock, it all goes on the uphill action swing. We get brutal fights, brutal shootouts, near-misses, double-crosses, triple-crosses, chases, and enough explosions for action fans to sink their teeth into. The funny thing, the two main actors at the time weren't expected to be in such action. Connery was aging, and Nicholas Cage just didn't have the look or the attitude for it. Fortunately for us, they proved us dead wrong.
Bottom Line: If you want to see a true action classic, The Rock is a great example. Rising above the average action movie and above the decent ones as well, this is by far Michael Bay's best work and one of the signature flicks of the 90s. Combining tension you can cut with a steak knife with thrills, chills, and plenty of carnage, The Rock has aged well and continues to influence the work of modern action movies and the work of Michael Bay as well. Grab some popcorn and enjoy this ruthlessly clever movie. Recommend to the max, as long as you don't mind a bit of blood spewing onto the screen. They just don't make em' like they used to.
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