The Rock – Review

The Rock

Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris
Directed by Michael Bay
(Hollywood, 1996)
by Scott Hefflon

Sure, the plot is quite a stretch: military hero (Ed Harris) snaps after seeing too much, steals a truckload of horrible gas rockets that make mustard gas look as threatening as French’s, takes captive Alcatraz Island and 80 some-odd tourists, then tries to blackmail the Pentagon into paying ransom out of a private stash of money accumulated from illegal sales of arms. Then in the second ten minutes, a biochemist genius (Nicolas Cage), diffuses a bomb, finds out his girlfriend is pregnant, gets called to duty while doing his manly duty, and flies to San Francisco where he’s introduced to charmingly dishonest FBI operatives. They decide to “free” the one man who ever escaped Alcatraz (Sean Connery) to lead their one-dimensional, tough-talking, need-to-know-nothing-but-is-my-gun-loaded team onto The Rock and, like, kill everyone. Sound stupid? Well, luckily everything goes wrong and our two mismatched “heroes” are left to save the day. Or at least throw around a bunch of tough one-liners while slowly outsmarting their trigger-happy enemies, killing them one by one in some rather creative ways. Ed Harris sermonizes patriotically, more movingly than goons like Dolph and Sly (he’s able to use multi-syllabic words), yet not as inspirationally as “Failure is not an option” in Apollo 13. Nicolas Cage gets to be the stumbling dork who finds his inner man amidst the chaos. At least after he throws up. And Sean Connery? The scenes with him as a wrongfully-imprisoned, philosophy-quoting, scraggly-haired killer (“it’s a grunge thing”) reminds you of why he was a sex symbol. As a dapper old guy, he stills charm you into walking close enough to the edge so he can push you off. And he gets to say the word “fuck.”