What more can be said about The Rock
than has already been said? A lot! In the days before Jerry Brukheimer
finished his mutation into the despicable pile of shit that he has become , (See the
stupid Gone in Sixty Seconds and the atrocious Coyote Ugly, a film
that is actually worse than Battlefield Earth, and of course the scary horror masterpiece, Pearl Harbor) he produced a very
original and enjoyable action flick called The Rock. Is The Rock
way over any acceptable top? Yes. Does Sean Connery crush a VW Bug in
his stolen Humvee, which sends cop cars flying all over the place and then yells, Hope
youre insured! Yeah. At one point do we see nicolas Cage turn into a burning
green Christ figure with an atropine needle sticking out of his heart while
desperately and passionately signaling to a squadron of F-18s equipped with
experimental napalm not to eradicate Alcatraz because him and wrongfully
incarcerated ex-SAS special agent James Mason, Sean Connery, have just killed 17
Marines and dismantled 15 VX gas rockets? Oh, God yes! Those scenes, plus
countless others machismo wet daydreams, help The Rock succeed where so
many action gangbuster-type flicks fail. Im talking about Con Air,
and Pearl Harbor. Interestingly all are movies that pretty
much involve the same crew of writers, directors and producers. And they all suck ass.

Aside from the obvious charisma brought to the
screen by the likes of Nic Cage and Mr. Connery, this film is chock full of
impressive actors. Most notably Ed Harris as the disgruntled yet honorable
Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, who along with somber yet earnest Major Tom
Baxter (Played by David Morse) assemble a team of crack Marines and hold 481
people prisoner on Alcatraz, along with those deadly rockets, in order to demand
retribution be paid to the families of various soldiers he has commanded over
the decades who have been made to disappear by the government.  Everyone knows Ed Harris can act
(See the disturbing Pollock) and he holds nothing back with this
remarkable performance. Out of all the military characters in the movie, and
there are dozens, Harriss Hummel is the only remotely believable one. Contrast
his performance with that of Michael I was in Terminator Biehns who plays the
rival Seal Team leader like he’s leading a Boy Scout troop, and you will see the difference. There is even a
wonderful exchange between him and Connery where they trade Thomas Jefferson and
Oscar Wilde quotes back and forth. Then, in the true style of The Rock, Ed
bashes Sean in the back of his head with an elbow.

Here is the story, just so you have it straight. Hummel wants a million
dollars for each of the men lost under his command that the government
now denies ever existed. Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (nicolas Cage) is a
brilliant but dorky chemical agent (“Superfreak! – He actually refers
to himself as such.) expert working for the FBI who is called in
because of the hyper-lethal VX gas. Sean Connery has been in prison
without trial since 1962 for stealing super-sensitive microfilm from
none other than J. Edgar Hoover. (That is actually my favorite plot
loophole. The microfilm has the truth about the JFK assassination,
which happened in 1963!) Mason/Connery has the unique quality that he
is the only person who ever successfully escaped from The Rock. Er,
Alcatraz. Together, with a team of elite Navy Seals, they must break
into Alcatraz, kill the marines, disable the rockets and free the
hostages. Oh yeah, Hummel wants to launch the rockets at San Francisco
where Masons long lost (Yep, we meet her At least she wasnt on the
Alcatraz tour) daughter Jade Angelou (Claire Forlani) and Goodspeeds
pregnant finance Carla, played by the ridiculously cute Vanessa Marcil,
both happen to be. Uh, also, FBI Director Womak (John Spencer) is the
one who has cruelly held Mason behind bars all these years, and the two
guys dont like each other. That is why Mason chucks him off the roof of
the Fairmont Hotel. Maybe Im giving too much away-

Point is, the plot is absolutely ludicrous!
Fanciful, juvenile, sophomoric, unbelievable and fun. See, ten pages into the
script, everyone involved must have realized that they were targeting
fourteen-year-old boys and dumber. So they ran with it. Fast. The minimal love
story, which I am sure Bruckheimer insisted upon, is pushed to the very
beginning, where it belongs, and rarely does it pop up to spoil the carnage.
Though, it has to be pointed out that one of the movies funniest scenes is a
direct result of the relationship between Dr. Stanley and his girl Carla. Goodspeed says
something about trying his best, to which Mason replies in that trade marked
Scottish brogue, Your best? Losers are always whining about their best. Winners
go home and fuck the prom queen. Now, in any other action/thriller, that would
be enough. We have a funny line from the tough guy that humiliates the comic
relief nerd, now lets go shoot some more bad people. Not in The Rock. Dr.
Goodspeed gets to respond with, “Carla was the prom queen.” Did I mention that
he cocked his .45 while saying it? Anti-sublime, overstated brilliance.

The production/direction crew was also very
aware that they had Sean Connery in the lead role, and not say, Tom Berenger. At
one point the ex-007 responds to another of Dr. Goodspeeds annoying queries
with, I dont know. Perhaps Im losing my sex appeal. The following dates are
important and will be lost on future generations unless they read this. The Rock
came out in 1996 and 1995 was the year Sean Connery was named by People Magazine
as the Sexiest Man Alive. Fortunately there is a shower scene with Old Man
Connery that shows just how astute Peoples journalistic staff really is.
Understand this about The Rock; With the exception of the awesome Harris
performance, no one gets into their character. Every presence on the screen is
just as flat and two-dimensional and surely as the next, or as any other role in
any other Bruckheimer production. You are painfully aware at all times that you
are watching a duo of twenty-million dollar leading men, Connery and Cage,
throughout. And youll love it, every second of it. Especially when they go
busting through San Francisco, with Connery in that black Hummer hitting
everything in sight, and Cage just behind him in a bright yellow Ferrari. I
just cant wait for The Rock II.

DVD Extras

The second disk included in The Rock
Special Edition is really good. You get all the typical special effects crap
where they show you how every single thing is really a computer graphic and how
awful your hair and skin has to be to work in the f/x biz. However, the really
good stuff lays elsewhere.

My favorite little ditties are the outtakes involving
Ed Harris. The guy is a sociopath. Every time he blows a line, he just starts
cussing like. A lot. Many of the scenes involve him on the phone talking to the
Pentagon and it is just hysterical to watch him miff the line, start slamming
the phone on a desk and yell, Fucking Christ! Fucking shit, fuck! God Damn it,
this is fucking ridiculous! What the hell are you doing with that cigar? You
will really like it. I sat next to him on a plane once and I was scared shitless. Mostly because he was so short.

The other cool part is when they go to a
Navy Seal firing range and a couple of active Seals and a Hollywood weapons
expert ridicule the way that most actors/actresses handle weapons on screen.
Kids, pay attention. The best being when they attack the act of drawing a gun
that is tucked into the back of your pants. The main problem being that you wind
up dragging the barrel across your midsection with you finger on the trigger.
Apparently, a very serious no-no. They also make fun of the Gangsta Shot where
the gun is held out sideways (See John Woo, etc.) and fired in rapid succession.
Turns out, that is real wrong.

In another section, they talk about the proper way to
put a person down with a gun. Never fire only once. Anything worth shooting
once is worth shooting twice. They tell you that if you only put one bullet in
a person, the body reacts as if it has been injured in a normal way. However,
if you put two bullets into a body, the brain will actually realize that serious
injury has occurred and shut the body down. You also learn that if you have shot
them twice in the chest cavity, you might as well put one in the head. I mean,
the bad guys could be wearing body armor for all you know. Then there is a
really funny part where a real Seal who played a Seal in the movie explains how
real Seals would not have been killed in the shower room scene, even with 17
Marines in position above them. Right. . .

The only part I didnt like was the interview with Jerry
Bruckheimer. I forget exactly what he said, but it was boring. Probably stupid,
too. I just remember it being the only time I have ever actually felt like
peeing on my own television. That guy fucks pigs

Ruthless Ratings

  • Overall: 7
  • Radness: 9
  • DVD Extras: 9
  • Story: 2
  • Audacity: 10
  • Acting: 5
  • Direction: 7

Ruthless Special Ratings

  • Number of Cigarettes Smoked: 6
  • Number of Beers Drank: 3
  • Number of Times Movie was Paused to do Something Else: 1
  • Number of Times you Wished you Were Watching a Carrot Top Movie: 0
  • Number of Times you Wished you Were Watching China Town: 0
  • Number of Times you Thought you Were Watching a Tarantino Picture: 2 (Big gun standoff at the end)
  • Number of Times you Found yourself Enjoying the Movie: The whole frigging time.
  • Number of Times you Wished you Would have Taken that Screenwriting Class: 1
  • Number
    of Times the Oppressive Soundtrack made you Reach for your Knife: 0 The
    soundtrack is so good. Imagine a Van Halen song done by a symphony.
  • Number of Times you Imagined the Director Snickering to
    Himself: A lot. Although, Michael Bay is so dumb that maybe he didn’t
    get the script. After all, this is the horse-fucker that gave us Pearl Harbor.
  • Re-watchability: I have seen it 10 times, at least.
About Matt

Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
Follow Matt: @mattcale52