“Sir, we know why you’re out here. God knows, I agree with you. But like you, I swore to defend this country against all enemies, foreign, sir… and domestic. General, we’ve spilled the same blood in the same mud. And you know god damn well I can’t give that order.”
–Michael Biehn as Commander Anderson
Looking back on The Rock we can easily pick out set pieces and scenes used liberally for years to come, it is, in essence, every Michael Bay movie ever made. But that is us, looking back; at the time it was released it was something of an innovator. Sure it borrows set pieces from other movies but it seems more like a loving homage than outright theft. I would go so far as to say that The Rock is a contemporary classic, if I used terms like that.
The rock is all about a hostage plot, in which a disgruntled general takes hostages and demands rights for soldiers. The general is played by Ed Harris and very well indeed. To me he is the standout character in the film delivering someone who is clearly an antagonist and must be stopped, but with strong touches of humanity. His point is valid, his methods are questionable, but his sanity is very solid. He uses his power to liberate deadly nerve gas missiles which he threatens to unleash upon San Francisco unless his demands are met.
Enter Stanley Goodspeed, portrayed by Nicolas Cage. Cage is not an actor I have always liked, but as I see more of his stuff I realize he has in him the potential to either be a fantastic actor (Faceoff), or to simply cash a paycheck in the most amazing way possible (The Wicker Man). Here he delivers a solid performance as a somewhat mild man in what is probably a high stress job; he’s the kind of guy we usually don’t respect until the situation calls for him. In his first moments in this film he uses a rube-Goldberg machine to win a bet, disarms a bomb, and then plays a guitar while naked and listening to the Beatles. At this point I feel I know the character well enough to hang with him for the movies duration. Here he is a chemical specialist for the FBI, and as such he’s the only one who can disarm the missiles.
Finally we get Sean Connery as the “Wolverine” of the movie. He has a mysterious background, people threaten him, and he’s the best there is at what he does; and that’s all he needs to be in this movie. I love Connery but honestly his role in this film really seems to be the plot movier, and his character is less interesting than the rest. However, he does a fine job here, because he’s Sean Connery.
While there is time devoted to Cage’s character, and the surprising depth shown in Harris’ character this movie is an action piece. You shouldn’t expect lots of explanation of deep philosophy. It’s a rollercoaster ride, but a very good one. It does have plot holes, in fact my favorite one concerns Cage’s character and his presence in the movie. He is a chemical specialist, as such he is the only one that can disarm the nerve gas missiles, which he does pulling out the core (carefully) and then removing the guidance chip. That is it, I’m not a technician, or highly trained, but I’m very certain that if given a screwdriver, warning, and a picture of the chip I could have just as easily disarmed the missiles.
But, you won’t have time to think about that. The movie moves at a great clip and keeps you entertained. It is a benchmark of modern action movies. It gets a 4/5.