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Steve Kong

Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97

A film review by Steve Kong
Copyright 1997 Steve Kong

Many men have died behind enemy lines, and the US Government has chosen to
forget them. Well, this has to stop now, and General Francis X Hummel (Ed
Harris) will do this.

Hummel along with a small group of Marines have taken over Alcatraz, and taken
81 hostages. The rescue of the hostages would be easy if not for the batch of
rockets that the General has pointed at the San Francisco Bay Area. The
rockets aren't standard rockets either. They are armed with the highly lethal
VX gas.

The Pentagon has two solutions. One is to bomb the island with bombs that
will incinerate the deadly VX gas upon contact. But this solution will also
take the lives of all the hostages. The second solution is to attempt a
nighttime raid on the island with a small group of Navy Seals. But no one
knows how to get into the fortress island. Except for the only man to ever
escape the island, John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery). Mason is imprisoned for
stealing government secrets 30 years ago. And if they get into the fortress
island, can they disable the rockets? Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is a
chemical expert who specializes in deadly gases such as the VX gas. Mason is
let out of prison to help the SEAL team get on the island. Goodspeed is going
to the island to disable the rockets.

The driving force behind Goodspeed to disable all the rockets is the knowledge
that his pregnant fiancee (the beautiful Vanessa Marcil) has flown into San
Francisco and is now in danger of being killed. Mason also has a driving
force, and that is his daughter, for which he has met once in only 30 years,
is also in San Francisco. Hummel wants to get the attention of the US
Government with one final try, and get them to honor the men that he has lost
in his covert operations.

The Rock is a shined and polished action movie directed by Michael Bay (Bad
Boys). The movie takes no risks in trying to be original, what Bay does is
polish everything and make the movie shine. The actions consist of
fistfights, car chases, guns fights, and people hanging from precarious
places. But what might sound like an increasingly boring string of action
sequences turns out to be a roller coaster ride of action. This is the case
only because of the heavy camera work and heavy quick editing. I admit the
story is a little thin, but it is enough to create the background and push for
all of the action.

Though the story is more or less a standard action driven type, the characters
are not the typical characters. Ed Harris' Hummel is not the typical
wide-eyed crazy man who has his finger on a big red button ready to kill
millions. He has a conscious. As an example, early on in the movie, before
he takes the island hostage, he tells a class of children to get on a boat and
off the island right away. Cage's Goodspeed is not some
hotshot-straight-firing tough FBI field agent. Instead he is a self-described
"chemical superfreak." He is the character that goes through the most change
through the movie. Connery's Mason is a great character, but probably the
weakest of the trio. Other characters and actors that are worth mentioning
are Vanessa Marcil, in her first big budget film, as Goodspeed's pregnant
fiancee. William Forsythe as Paxton a FBI agent. And last, but not least,
David Morse who gives a great performance as Major Tom Baxtor.

Mason and Goodspeed share most of their screen time together, often saving
each other's life. Their relationship on screen also makes for some funny
scenes. And it is with these types of scenes that make the movie stick
together. There is balance between action and humor. Whenever I felt that
the action was just about to wear me out, something humorous kicks in and I'm
ready for more.

I only have one small complaint about The Rock. That is the heavy camera work
that I mentioned before. Most of it works very well, but then there are times
where it is just overused. This is most evident in the car chase through the
streets of San Francisco. Though the sequence is the most enjoyable car chase
sequence I've seen in a long while, it is marred by the hyper-kinetic camera

The Rock is an adrenaline rush, and should be seen no matter what. The Rock
is on my most watched and most loved film lists. It is no Shakespeare, but it
is two hours of pour entertainment. So, go see it and get ready to be rocked.

steve kong (
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