The Rock (1996): Breakdown by Rutledal
Die Hard on Alcatraz. A chemical super-freak and a former spy have to prevent a group of mercenaries from blowing up San Francisco.
You might have noticed that Michael Bay does not hold a high star at the AOBG office*. This is because he dedicates most his time tarnishing the Action genre with his successful CGI heavy shitfest action movies, and their PG-13 ratings and bullshit heroes. (See: Transformers) But as the saying goes even a broken watch shows the correct time every twelfth hour. Well, Bay is more like a digital watch so let’s make it every twenty-fourth hour. So far he has only succeeded once. While cases could be made for the Bad Boys movies, I’m sure as hell not going be the one to make them because I didn’t ask for a more racist update of Lethal Weapon and neither did I enjoy it. But enough about them, the reason I’m writing this is Bay’s sole masterpiece and one of my all time favorite action movies: The Rock.
The movie starts of as an army General with a hero status most people in the military can only dream of decides that the government owes him (well, him and the families of MIA Gulf War troops) some money, so he does the most logical thing and sues them. Just kidding! He steals a load of nerve gas rockets and decides to hold the entire city of San Francisco hostage until they pay him. The government’s solution? Send in a former spy whose been locked in a prison for the last thirty years and an FBI science geek who has never seen field action. Essentially it’s a crossover between Escape from New York and Die Hard, if they were buddy cop movies, except neither of the characters are cops and none of them are black. Oh, and there’s also a Navy SEAL team accompanying the duo.
The movie has a lot going for it, there is plenty of bad-ass dialogue, the effects aren’t overused like Bay usually does, and it’s really quite violent. And just check out this cast: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, William Forsythe, David Morse, John Spencer, Tony Todd. The list just goes on, all crammed into one movie. It’s a god damn orgy of badasses. Strange, I’d say, considering the casting Bay does nowadays (See: Shia LaBeouf). It also features one of the greatest car chases in action movie history and sports one heck of a great score. Few hardcore action movies can show off a score as good as The Rock‘s. It’s simply great. How Zimmer failed to receive an Oscar nomination is beyond me. Fuck you, other scores that came out that year and that most certainly were crappier!
It’s not completely without its flaws however. Like most Bay movies, it’s heavy on explosions (far more than it has to be, of course), around half the movie or so is shot in slow-motion, and not surprisingly chock full of racist stereotypes for comic relief. Still, the good parts more than make up for it, with the two leads working great together, and the humor doesn’t depend entirely on black stereotypes. With is mixture of the styles of 80’s and 90’s action The Rock almost qualifies as a timeless action classic. No matter what you classify it as, it’s a must in every self respecting action fan’s collection.
* There exists no such thing
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Sean Connery is John Patrick Mason
“With scissors, this man could kill you.”
Mason is the only man ever to escape Alcatraz alive. He is also a former top British agent. Seriously, I’m not gonna bullshit you here, Mason is James Bond. He’s just older. So yeah. He’s bad-ass, very bad-ass. There is nothing he can’t do, except cut someone’s balls off with a trimmer.
Nicolas Cage is Dr. Stanley Goodspeed, but of course he is.
He is a biochemist, or a science nerd. He drives a Volvo (a beige one) and has never seen field action. He is pretty whiny at the start of the film and actually vomits at the thought of having to go out in the field on a real mission. However, when finally in the thick of it, he rises to the occasion and quickly adapts to ways of bad-ass. I mean, anyone who uses a freaking missile to impale someone is a certified bad-ass motherfucker in my book. Also, he stabs himself in the fucking heart with a huge needle, do you have the balls to stab yourself in the heart? How about with a huge needle? Didn’t think so.
[THE BODY COUNT: 24]
Connery finishes off 7 bad guys, while Cage gets a little less with 3. The others are mainly Michael Biehn and his marines getting gunned down in an overly dramatic shootout, and various mercenaries that get killed during an internal argument. Lots of violent deaths here.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
There are many great deaths in this movie: there is the guy who gets launched with the missile, the guy that is burnt alive, etc. But there is no contest when it comes to the best death. It’s Nic Cage forcing a ball of nerve gas into Captain Frye’s mouth before punching him, thereby crushing the ball. Watching that creepy-ass motherfucker Frye (get it?) with spasms and melting skin (just watch the movie) is at once both disturbing and extremely satisfying.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Nic Cage has a nude scene, but you don’t see ass or junk, and Sean Connery talks about having to avoid a prison gang rape (seeming to grow nostalgic over a former era when the attacks were much more frequent). One of the mercenary guys refers to Cage as “Sweetie”, but nothing ever happens between them. There is a moment when Connery saves Cage from drowning and the score is just a tad too romantic. Oh, there is also the whole discussion about the Elton John song “Rocket Man”.
And then there was this guy. Oh yeah. He’s a hairdresser.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
I think there are three female characters in the entire movie: Nic Cage’s girlfriend, Sean Connery’s daughter and fat black tourist lady. Nic Cage’s girlfriend gets treated pretty much like crap. No one cares to inform her that her boyfriend is in a life threatening situation. At one point Cage even walks out on her while they are having sex because his work has more priority. Connery’s daughter barely gets any screen time so Bay doesn’t take the time to harass or stereotype her.
But then there is the black tourist lady and you better believe Bay manages to turn her into a stereotype. She is loud, noisy, constantly talking about how she has a gun at home and uses “fuck” as every second word. She may only be in the movie for 2 minutes, but I’ll be damned if Bay doesn’t manage to squeeze every black stereotype in to her. So kudos, I guess.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
[flashvideo filename=videos/Welcome.avi.FLV /]
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery [Electric Claw Launcher]
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation [Helicopter, Hummer]
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse [Drinking]
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel/Remake [Qayamat: City Under Threat]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice
*I’m counting all those areas with the dark pipes and stuff beneath the prison