A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Rock

May 31, 2010

The Rock

I choose to view this movie as James Bond flick. Just a kind of AU James Bond. In the sixties Bond was captured by the FBI and has been in American custody in a supermax prison ever since. And this movie is the story of how he eventually escapes. All the rest of the movie is just window dressing. Big, exploding, noisy, window dressing.

Actually, for a Michael Bay movie this is pretty much the cream of the crop. It’s got all his usual explody nonsense, but it’s better done than his more recent junk. The plot involves a U.S. general driven bad by the government’s refusal to acknowledge the sacrifices made by soldiers under his command in top secret black ops. When he and his team steal a bunch of chemical weapons and hole up on Alcatraz to demand that the soldiers’ families get compensation the only way to stop him is for a desk-jockey FBI chemical weapons expert and the only living man to have broken out of the Rock to join a group of navy seals and take the prison back. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Well it’s far more convoluted and silly in practice. There’s a daring raid on a high-security weapons depot. There’s a big San Francisco car chase that ends with an improbably large explosion. There’s a lengthy mine cart fight scene. It’s not really explained why there are mine carts in the tunnels beneath Alcatraz (perhaps they’re part of the laundry?) It’s a big mess of stupidity and adrenaline pumping action.

The only reason this movie works as more than a stupid summer action flick (which is what it mostly is) is that the casting is better than you might expect given the plot summary above. Ed Harris as General Hummel plays an interestingly human bad guy. He has to carefully walk the line between driven madman and honorable soldier. Nick Cage is the FBI agent who’s out of his element. And of course James Bond himself – Sir Sean Connery – is the FBI prisoner whose brain holds the key to getting in to Alcatraz to save everyone. It’s Sean’s movie, really. Everybody else is just playing in it.

Watching this movie tonight I’m struck by how much it is part of a progression in summer action blockbusters. You can see that Michael Bay is refining the tool-set that was developed through the action blockbusters of the eighties and early nineties. It’s got the kill-the-badguys-one-at-a-time formula forged in such action greats as Commando and Under Siege. It’s got military camaraderie as seen in Aliens and Abyss (including Michael Biehn as one of the marines sent in with Cage and Connery.) It’s got the girlfriend looking on in concern waiting to hear back from her boyfriend as seen in Apollo 13. It’s an amalgam of great action moments all strung together. And of course in bits like the trolley car tossed in the air and then sliding along the ground after Cage’s character it presages the silly excess of Michael Bay movies to come. (Some of which we will be reviewing later!)

I do enjoy a good turn-off-your-brain movie, and this is amongst the best. Action and explosions with a bare framework of a plot. If you try to think about it you’ll hurt yourself, but in general it’s fun to watch. And, really, has Sean Connery ever been anything but easy on the eyes? He’s so believable as a kick-ass but still suave hero even in his sixties that it’s simply unfair to us lesser mortals.


May 31, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | ,

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