The Rock Review
Another Bruckheimer effort hits Blu ray alongside another mid 90's classic Con Air. The two films share a lot more in common than just Nicholas Cage. They also both manage to raise themselves above the dumb action movie cliché and provide a genuinely enjoyable experience for the brain as well as the eyes.
The plot of The Rock is a little more erudite than most action movies, but still provides an enjoyable popcorn accompaniment. A group of mercenaries led by Brigadier General Francis Hummel (Ed Harris) have taken over Alcatraz and aimed a group of Chemical weapons at the heart of San Francisco. Their aim it to get compensation for American soldiers killed and injured during service.
Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage) is a shy retiring chemical expert working within the FBI. He finds himself reluctantly paired with John Mason (Sean Connery) - an ex convict who was a British Spy who knows a secret........
The refreshing thing about this film is that it is more about the characters than the spectacle. The essential element of the plot is two characters trying to infiltrate a maximum security prison. It is just the two, together, on a stealth mission against insurmountable odds. This conceit means that you have two actors who have to spend a lot of time together and it just wouldn't work if the two weren't at the top of their game and showing great chemistry. And luckily, in this case the two do work really well together.
They are helped by a cracking script, and direction that really does concentrate on making the characters believable. It is hard to believe that this is the same Michael Bay who in his later films advocated spectacle over character. Here, Godspeed and Mason really do turn into people, people you care about and have genuine emotion invested in their fate.
Ed Harris also lends weight to the film in his supporting role. His performance as a grizzled Marine who has embarked on something that he eventually realises is futile and wrong. He may not have a great deal of screen time but when he does he simply electrifies the film with his presence.
However, The Rock is primarily an action film and despite the presence of the great actors and script, there is still plenty here to keep you entertained. The film is big budget, and every penny is up there on the screen. From an early car chase through the streets of 'Cisco, to a jet attack on the prison, you certainly get your money's worth on the effects front. There is even a brilliantly realised shoot-out with an unusual, poignant coda to it.
Overall, then, The Rock is quality entertainment that will pay off in terms of rewatch value. You have superb special effects, a razor sharp script, a trio of top actors producing superb performances, characters you care about, and a film that is extremely well directed. This is a highly recommended release.