The Rock (16, 137mins) Directed by Michael Bay ****
The title of Michael Bay’s mid-90s magnum opus refers to the nickname – affectionate or otherwise – given to the former island prison off San Francisco.
Since 1973 however, Alcatraz has been better known as the Tourist Trap, siphoning cash from those who wanted to see what life was like within its walls and behind bars.
For Brigadier-General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris), this represents the perfect starting point for him to send a message to the US government. With the help of an elite team of mercenaries, he captures Alcatraz, along with around 80 hostages, later demanding that millions of dollars be paid in compensation to the families of those killed while involved in the war. covert operations on behalf of their country. Deny his request and he will release a deadly poisonous gas into the atmosphere.
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* San Francisco: Alcatraz Getaway
Of course, the authorities have no intention of dealing with such a terrorist. Instead, they break out a counteroffensive, a crack team of the Navy Seals. They are joined by FBI chemical weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), whose specialties include knowing how to deal with the deadly gas spheres the General has on hand (articles which, for Kiwi moviegoers of a certain vintage, will look eerily like Lime Tangy Fruits which were usually left until the end to mock while watching a movie of this type)
Making sure to cover all the bases, officials also decide they need John Mason (Sean Connery), allegedly the only man to have escaped from Alcatraz (and who also claims to know who shot JFK) , but who was subsequently jailed for 30 years without as much as a trial.
However, the break-in can prove to be even more difficult than the escape – and time is running out for our heroes as the deadline draws near.
In 1996, producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer were well acquainted with the formula for making an action blockbuster. Take a few major stars, add plenty of action and special effects, a hip and evocative soundtrack, mix and match the story essentials – and just watch the money roll in. Beverly Hills cop, Bad Boys, Crimson Tide and Top Gun are perfect examples.
Despite an autonomy of more than two hours, The rocks the beat never stops, with Bay’s camera struggling to stay still either. Whether it’s frantic car chases or high-octane explosions, the havoc wrought is enough to satisfy even the most ardent action fans and lovers of lens flare and sunsets. of orange sun.
The rocks Secret sauce though, what allows it to stand the test of time is the cast. Connery, in his last big role, defies his advancing years (he was around 65 when this was filmed), easily deferring to his younger colleagues – and stealing all the best lines. (“I’ve been in prison longer than Nelson Mandela, so maybe you want me to run for president.”)
Cage, in those happy days when he was part of the mainstream Hollywood audience, is a good foil for the master, tapping into the skills he has shown in Honeymoon in Vegas, rather than Leaving Las Vegas.
Add in Harris’ nuanced villain, plus a deep bench of support that includes Claire Forlani, David Morse, Michael Biehn and John C. McGinley and there are some wonderful character moments and memorable sequences at every turn.
The rock is now available to stream on Disney +.