FBI chemical warfare expert Stanley Goodspeed is sent on an urgent mission with a former British spy, John Patrick Mason, to stop Gen. Francis X. Hummel from launching chemical weapons on Alcatraz Island into San Francisco. Gen. Hummel demands $100 million in war reparations to be paid to the families of slain servicemen who died on covert operations. After their SEAL team is wiped out, Stanley and John deal with the soldiers on their own.
- John Patrick Mason: Sean Connery
- Dr. Stanley Goodspeed: Nicolas Cage
- Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, USMC: Ed Harris
- Special Agent Ernest Paxton: William Forsythe
- Major Tom Baxter: David Morse
- FBI Director James Womack: John Spencer
- Commander Charles Anderson: Michael Biehn
- Captain Darrow: Tony Todd
- Captain Frye: Gregory Sporleder
- Carla Pestalozzi: Vanessa Marcil
- Jade Angelou: Claire Forlani
- Marine Captain Hendrix: John C. McGinley
- Sergeant Crisp: Bokeem Woodbine
- Private McCoy: Steve Harris
- Private Gamble: Greg Collins
- Private Cox: Brendan Kelly
- Lieutenant Shephard: Danny Nucci
- Stacy Richards: Celeste Weaver
- Marvin Isherwood: Todd Louiso
- Dr. Ling: David Bowe
- Agent Margie Wood: Raquel Krelle
- Private Scarpetti: Jim Maniaci
- Navy Seals: Billy Devlin
- Rear F-18 Pilot: Jim Caviezel
- Marine That Dies: Ingo Neuhaus
- General Peterson: John Laughlin
- Francis Reynolds: Willie Garson
- Sea Stallion Pilot: John Enos III
- Lonner (uncredited): Xander Berkeley
- Sergeant Rojas (uncredited): Raymond Cruz
- U.S. Marine (uncredited): Matthew James Gulbranson
- Chief Justice (uncredited): Philip Baker Hall
- Navy Lt. Commander (uncredited): Pat Skipper
- General Al Kramer (uncredited): Stuart Wilson
- The President (uncredited): Stanley Anderson
- Chief of Staff Hayden Sinclair (uncredited): David Marshall Grant
- Paul the Hotel Barber: Anthony Clark
- Park Ranger Bob: Raymond O’Connor
- Navy Admiral: Harry Humphries
- Casting: Heidi Levitt
- Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
- Original Music Composer: Hans Zimmer
- Executive Producer: Sean Connery
- In Memory Of: Don Simpson
- Director: Michael Bay
- Screenplay: Jonathan Hensleigh
- Director of Photography: John Schwartzman
- Production Design: Michael White
- Casting: Billy Hopkins
- Editor: Richard Francis-Bruce
- Stunt Double: Webster Whinery
- Music Editor: Bob Badami
- Art Direction: Edward T. McAvoy
- Stunt Coordinator: Kenny Bates
- Set Decoration: Rosemary Brandenburg
- Art Direction: Mark W. Mansbridge
- Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Greg P. Russell
- Screenplay: David Weisberg
- Executive Producer: William Stuart
- Stunts: Pete Antico
- Original Music Composer: Nick Glennie-Smith
- Executive Producer: Louis A. Stroller
- Screenplay: Douglas Cook
- Screenplay: Mark Rosner
- Costume Design: Bobbie Read
- Stunt Double: Edward Conna
- Visual Effects Supervisor: Hoyt Yeatman
- Stunt Double: Steve Kelso
- Stunts: Dick Ziker
- Stunts: Danny Epper
- Stunts: Kerry Wallum
- Stunt Double: Terry Jackson
- Stunt Double: Michael M. Vendrell
- Costume Supervisor: James W. Tyson
- Stunts: Peewee Piemonte
- Music Editor: John Finklea
- Supervising Sound Editor: George Watters II
- Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Kevin O’Connell
- Still Photographer: Frank Masi
- Script Supervisor: Karen Golden
- Modeling: Matsune Suzuki
- Stunts: Lisa Dempsey
- Stunts: Sandra Lee Gimpel
- Script Supervisor: Jeanne Byrd
- Sound mixer: Keith A. Wester
- Stunts: Fred Lerner
- Stunts: Janet Brady
- Electrician: John Owens
- Stunt Double: Andrew DePalma
- Grip: Daryl Tucker
- Bryan Nguyen: Alcatraz. Only one man has ever broken out. Now five million lives depend on two men breaking in.
Michael Bay’s best picture.
The sophomore effort from director Michael Bay, this $75 million dollar action film was released nationwide on June 7, 1996 – eventually earning $335 million. The particularly great R-rated premise sees a mild-mannered chemist teaming up with a resourceful ex-con who must infiltrate Alcatraz prison after a rogue group of military men, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve-gas attack.
Constantly in over his head, and never one to use profane language, Nicholas Cage is excellent as the quirky chemist – often resorting to quips and jokes in lieu of violence. In a character that feels like a sort of spiritual successor to his portrayal of James Bond, Sean Connery is the patient but skilled MI6 operative.
After 30-years of false imprisonment, he’s recruited from jail to help the feds sneak onto Alcatraz – as he’s the only person to have successfully escaped from the prison facility decades earlier. When he’s required to finally put his knowledge of the defunct prison to the test, the disbelief and amazement from his military companions is quite amusing.
The unlikely pairing of these two is honestly the best part of the film. Cage’s zany behavior is a perfect foil for Connery’s relaxed confidence. The British ex-con chastises his younger counterpart on ‘doing his best’. “Your’best’? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and -bang- the prom queen.” After a quick beat and a sly grin, Nicholas responds, “Carla was the prom queen.” This isn’t just a funny encapsulation of their relationship, but one of my all-time favorite exchanges in any action movie.
Ed Harris is phenomenal as the quote, “bad guy” – a disillusioned Marine General whose terrorist actions are only to secure reparations for his forgotten and fallen soldiers. It’s honestly a perfectly understandable, and dare I say noble position; a man willing to commit treason and risk his life to help the families of his former troops.
Which is why the government’s handling, and ultimate dismissal of his ransom request is so perplexing and frustrating. Before ordering a massive aerial kill strike on the entire island, the President gives an impassioned speech (seemingly to an empty Oval Office) about his ‘impossible decision’ – but this only highlights the aforementioned plot hole. Harris only asked for $100 million dollars… why not just give him the money?
The supporting cast is stacked with even more excellent talent; David Morse, William Forsythe, Michael Beihn, Xander Berkeley, and Phillip Baker Hall. Of particular note however is John Spencer – who does fantastic work as a conflicted FBI director who reluctantly recruits Connery, Tony Todd who has one of the best on-screen deaths ever, and John C. McGinley whose unrealistic performance as an over-eager Marine makes him seem miscast.
A trio of composers, including Hans Zimmer, bring some interesting and appropriate ideas to the soundtrack, utilizing synthesized themes and electric guitars. It feels reminiscent of the excellent score from the “Rainbow Six” video game that came out two years later.
While this feature never quite breaks the mold, it definitely represents the best possible version of your stereotypical mid-90s action film. For a rewatchable thrill-ride with plenty of excitement and memorable characters, look no further. “The Rock” is explosive fun that never takes itself too seriously. Perhaps Bay’s best film, I thought it was AWESOME.
- John Chard: Welcome to The Rock.
The Rock is directed by Michael Bay and written by David Weisberg, Douglas Cook & Mark Rosner. It stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, David Morse, William Forsythe & Michael Biehn.
When a highly decorated army general (Harris) decides that he’s had enough of his men dying and not getting the credit they deserve, he commandeers Alcatraz prison with a crack unit of Mercs. The plan is to hold the government to ransom or he will unleash from the prison biological rockets to bring Armageddon down upon America. Enter chemical weapons expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Cage), who is forced to team up with the only man ever to escape Alcatraz – the mysteriously incarcerated in secret John Patrick Mason (Connery) – to break into the Rock and thwart the plans of the Mercs.
So Cage as a chemistry expert who possible holds the fate of the world in his shaky hands? Connery, aged 66, as a tough prison escapee sporting a “Grunge” haircut? And Ed Harris, surely a bastion of patriotic Americana, turning bad and wanting to unleash hell on the Stars & Stripes? To expect nothing else but a berserker Michael Bayhem picture based on these facts is surely folly. He certainly has a varied CV does Bay, as do the leading actors on show here, but when on form, with writers prepared to put blood into the characters, Bay can deliver high octane entertainment if coupled with a cast clearly in tune with the material. Such is the case here. It’s no award winner, naturally, but it does have some political smarts within the script. And if you want explosions, shoot outs and quips aplenty? Then this really will serve you well for a couple of hours. 7.5/10
- Gimly: The two lead characters’ impact on the events of the move are pretty negligible, everyone and everything in it is laughably stupid, and you can see here begin to blossom the stereotypes that Michael Bay would go on you ruin everything he ever touched with, but I still kind of like _The Rock_. Maybe it’s just in comparison to all of Bay’s other films, or maybe it’s because it’s the only one of his works I saw when I was still single-digit aged, but I do enjoy it. I’m not willing to defend it, just to re-watch it once a decade or so.
_Final rating:★★★ – I liked it. Would personally recommend you give it a go. _