A federal chemist and a disavowed British agent must infiltrate Alcatraz to stop a renegade general from destroying San Francisco.
The Rock (1996)
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by David Weisberg, Douglas Cook, Mark Rosner
Starring Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris,
John Spencer, William Forsythe, Michael Biehn,
David Morse, Tony Todd, Gregory Sporleder,
Vanessa Marcil, John C. McGinley, Bokeem Woodbine
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound
I know what you're thinking, and no this is not the long-awaited biopic of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 1996's The Rock is actually Michael Bay's best movie, back when he did more than just Transformers sequels. Sporting three incredible leads in Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris, The Rock succeeds in combining mindless action with narrative heft, constantly making the audience uncertain of whose motives we should be standing behind. Of course, it being a Michael Bay film, The Rock is loaded with cheese and his signature 'splosions. Still, it remains considerably better than anything he's churned out since.
The plot revolves around a terrorist plot by decorated Marine General Francis X. Hummel (Harris), who holds San Francisco hostage with nerve gas and demands the men who died under his command get recognized for their bravery instead of swept under the rug as another black op. His intentions are noble, which is what makes him such an intriguing villain. Throughout the movie, he acts like a good man and doesn't want to kill anybody. I never expected a Michael Bay film to make me ponder the plight of the American soldier, but here we are. I felt that both Connery and Cage had great chemistry and their characters were both on point, especially if you buy into the fan theory that Connery's character is an older James Bond. You can see Nic Cage starting to evolve into the king of ham, as he delivers every line with the sarcastic bravado we've all come to expect.
Loaded with action from beginning to end, The Rock is an exciting thrill-ride that will make you long for the days when blockbuster films weren't so formulaic. This film succeeds in providing dramatic tension and three-dimensional characters, which is rare these days for action flicks. It might be a bit long, but the climax is nerve-wracking and features some way over the top death scenes that even the Bond franchise would chuckle at. Plus, it really helps sell Alcatraz as the best tourist attraction on the West coast.