Best Movies of All Time + [William Forsythe]

THE ROCK

THE ROCK1996
R

The Rock is a 1996 action film directed by Michael Bay. The film follows the terrorist plot of General Francis Hummel (Ed Harris) who goes to extreme lengths in order to force the government into compensating the families of soldiers killed during secret black ops missions. He and his team of similarly disgruntled Marines take hostages on the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco, setting up base inside the famed prison. They soon inform the government of their demands: a sum of $100 million dollars that will partially serve as reparations for the aforementioned families. If the money is not delivered, the Marines will launch four missiles containing a highly toxic chemical into the heart of the city, an attack that could cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. In an act of desperation, the government quickly calls leading FBI chemical biologist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) to help defuse the weapons. However, when issues arise concerning the prison's layout, FBI Director James Womack (John Spencer) reluctantly agrees to call upon a man named John Mason (Sean Connery), the only man ever to escape Alcatraz prison. After crafting a deal that would allow Mason to go free after helping with the operation, both he and Goodspeed head into the prison with a group of Navy SEALS to help stop the Marines' plot.

Although the plot we're given is a little bit on the straightforward and simplistic side, it never fails to turn even the slightest bit boring. Michael Bay has long been considered one of the lesser directors on the Hollywood scene, bringing more style than substance to any of his films. However, The Rock does serve as a bit of an exception, in my opinion. The screenplay is rather well-written, not taking it self too seriously but never really delving into anything too silly and rote. In a way, it lets the action do the talking rather than being mired in strange twists of logic or anything of the like. It's straightforward in that we have a man with a warped sense of justice who is out to kill innocent lives battling against men who will do anything to stop him. It's good versus evil, end of story. Although, you can easily argue that our "bad guy" really isn't all that bad, but you'll have to watch the movie to see exactly what I mean.

I think the casting is also top-notch. We get an all-star cast with the likes of Oscar winners Connery and Cage and Oscar nominee Harris. Those three alone make this movie worth watching. Yes, Nicolas Cage does know how to act, and this film serves as evidence. I know he's been mired in a lot of drivel in the past few years, but once upon a time, he was an Oscar winner, so you better believe he's got some sort of talent. Connery is simply Sean Connery, almost playing off himself and his career bravado (in fact, we even get a quip about how John Mason's training came from British Intelligence - clever clever, Mr. Bond). Harris does well as a conflicted man; we're never truly sure if he's completely prepared to do what he's planned to do. We also get some good performances from the likes of John Spencer, David Morse, William Forsythe, Michael Biehn and John C. McGinley.

To be honest, the only real issue I had with the film was the musical score, which was composed in a collaboration between Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith and Harry Gregson-Williams. Now don't get me wrong - the music composed for the film is actually very, very good and it fits the piece well. However, it does steal a little too directly from a previous film's score. That film, 1991's Backdraft, was also composed by Zimmer, so we can see where the parallels may have come from. The only problem was that whenever I heard the bit that sounded like the Backdraft score, I was immediately transported back to that film. That's not good for The Rock. To be fair, most people wouldn't recognize this little hiccup, but considering Backdraft is a personal favorite, there was no way I was going to miss that slip.

Despite that, The Rock is still a great action film that definitely deserves a watch if you haven't already seen it. Dispel any current thoughts you may have about Nicolas Cage and just enjoy the ride. It doesn't require much brain-power, but it'll make up for it with guns and explosions all that other guy stuff that we love to watch.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: A-
2 Thumbs Up