The Rock (1996) – 8/10 movie review

Sean Connery: John Patrick Mason
Nicolas Cage: Stanley Goodspeed
Ed Harris: General Francis X. Hummel
Michael Biehn: Commander Anderson
William Forsythe: Ernest Paxton
David Morse: Major Tom Baxter
John Spencer: F.B.I. Director Womack
John C. McGinley: Marine Captain Hendrix
Writer (Story): David Weisberg
Writer (Story): Douglas S. Cook
Writer (Screenplay): David Weisberg
Writer (Screenplay): Douglas S. Cook
Writer (Screenplay): Mark Rosner
Producer: Don Simpson
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Director: Michael Bay

Rock, The (1996)

Highly decorated but embittered U.S. General Francis X. Hummel holds America to ransom from Alcatraz, aka the Rock, and the only two men who stand in his way are FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed and a longtime political prisoner held without trial, ex-SAS operative John Patrick Mason: the only man ever to break out of Alcatraz.

8/10

Alarmingly silly but very exciting, insanely good-looking and hugely enjoyable big budget action movie from Bad Boys director Michael Bay. While it is spectacular and action-packed, it’s the humour and chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery’s characters that is the magic ingredient. With this movie Michael Bay became the next Tony Scott, capable of providing silly, spectacular and very entertaining action thrillers with a healthy dollop of style. With his next movie, Armageddon, Michael Bay would cement his own reputation and ensure that future directors of stylish action would be called the next Michael Bay.

This movie contains sexual swear words and graphic violence, unpleasant scenes, gory and unpleasant scenes and sex scene (no nudity, nicolas cage & vanessa marcil).

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

As with his previous film, Bay demonstrates a good ability to create exciting action pictures though this does not feel as genuinely thrilling as Bad Boys. The film is paced very well and the action is fairly spectacular.

There is a problem, though, and it seems to come from Bay’s desire to work in close-up almost all the time and if he presents a wide shot, he cuts from it as quickly as possible. This is at its worst during the daft car chase and makes it difficult to follow. Bay simply never gets the pulse of the car chase correct, he messes up the dynamics of the car stunts and explosions by incorrectly editing the sequence. The great action directors such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron have the ability to provide plenty of visual information as opposed to plenty of visuals and, at their best, produce sequences that generate excitement through tension and character as well as rapid-fire editing.

Music is good and is probably the definitive Hans Zimmer score. It does help engender excitement in some places but doesn’t help in others (specifically the car chase which Zimmer doesn’t appear to have done). Zimmer’s insistence on bombast all the way and using the same music for heroes and villains and, well, every scene does undermine proceedings on a sub-conscious (and music teacher) level but, in the context of the movie, it does the job really well.

The script isn’t too bad. It does provide transparently silly moments such as during the car chase when Goodspeed declares "You’re goin’ down" for no apparent reason other than to make himself sound a little more tough. However, it also provides a whole pile of fun lines by punchlining the action or puncturing the violence when it gets a bit too serious.

There’s also fun to be had with the potential body count. The VHS cover put it at "five million" and characters in the movie put it at "one million" and "eighty thousand."

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