Friend: What’s your favorite Sean Connery movie?
Me: (Immediately) The Rock.
Friend: Really? The Rock?
Me: Yep I still love The Rock.
I think it may be Bay’s best movie. He really seemed to peak in the 90’s for me 🙂 And actually this would definitely be in my Top 10 Films of the 90’s which I may actually do but if you haven’t seen The Rock you really should but also spoilers below!!!
So The Rock starts with Ed Harris (who is my favorite part of the film) he’s a legendary General tired of seeing good men die and be forgotten and their families lied to. So as he exposits all over his dead wife’s grave he has a plan… gets his hand on some killer gas, some missiles and then takes hostages on Alcatraz Island and points it at San Francisco.
Anyway a team of military special ops (exactly like the ones Hummel says he’s fighting for) must retake the Rock along with a chemical weapons super nerd Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) who was great but hadn’t yet gone full CAGE! And the FBI digs up a super spy from the 60’s (Connery) whose the only living person known to have escaped the Rock.
Naturally the actual Marines die pretty fast and it’s up to Stanley and Mason to save the day by disarming the other weapons and neutralizing the gas and because Bay really likes chopper and military plane porn there’s also the added benefit that if they can’t the government will turn the island into ash.
It’s a crazy story but over the top as it might have been its hard to say Bay didn’t get worse. The action is pretty clear here and easy to follow. While a lot of the secondary characters are pretty cliche (like the blood-thirsty Marines working with Hummel) the 3 main characters are good and the actors excellent.
Connery and Cage have a nice back and forth- especially the part where he finally tells him maybe stop yelling before a sniper gets his ass. But Harris really is the most important part here and I think they actually try for some nuance as much as Bay ever does when even most of the good guys admit he has a point but now they can’t do anything about that because they have to deal with him.
I also liked his scene with Connery who later tells Stanley that Hummel won’t do it because “he’s not a murderer,” to which naturally Stanley has some issues because people have already died.
And the third act when Mason is proven right and Hummel indeed can’t do it and everything goes to shit because the blood-thirsty Marines can always gets to me. Harris was just fantastic.
I also love the soundtrack in this one. It seemed like Bay knew exactly how to emotionally manipulate me with the damned music. I’d like to say I was just an easy to please teenage but no a great score can still go miles to winning me over and honestly Bay’s 3 90’s films (The Rock, Bad Boys and Armageddon) had that in spades again something I think his films sacrificed at some point.
The Rock is far from perfect grant you. Those cliched characters and bad lines and I admit I’m judging a little bit by what Bay would do and not do later. But I also think the corny cliche stuff that I cringed at was the same as in the 90’s so it holds up pretty damned good. Probably better than something like the Transformers series.
Anyway it’s still my favorite Connery film. Although this question did send me down a rabbit hole of movie watching but that’s a story for another day.
As to Dwayne the Rock Johnson on him I’m more ambivalent 🙂