In this director approved Criterion Collection release, we are treated to some excellent materials.
The film follows the story of Francis Hummel (Ed Harris), a retired marine who takes hostages on Alcatraz island. His demand is that the families of soldiers killed in covert operations be given compensation. He treatens to launch VX nerve gas into the city of San Francisco if his demands are not met. A navy SEAL team is sent in to neutralize the threat. Helping out is Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage), a chemical weapons expert, and John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), the only man to have escaped from Alcatraz.
The film has great acting and there are some good laughs in the film also. There are many action packed scenes including a car chase through the streets of San Francisco and the cars are often airborne when they go on the hills.
The Criterion DVD has many special features and is on a deouble disc set.
Disc 1 contains the movie with optional audio commentary by Director Michael Bay, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Technical advisor Harry Humphries, and actors Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris.
Disc 2 contains a theatrical trailer and TV spots, a video interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a blooper reel, a special about the film's premiere on Alcatraz, scenes from a TV special "Secrets of Alcatraz" that contains interviews with actual former inmates and a history of the island from Native American times to modern times.
There is a special "Dos and Don'ts of Hollywood Gunplay" with the film's technical advisor Harry Humpries and Marshall Teague.Read more ›
However, injected into this serious mix is none other than the best James Bond himself -- Sean Connery. Even in the more serious early Bonds, Connery always managed to convey to the audience that they were supposed to have fun during these films. Bruckheimer and Bay do their best to elevate what is essentially Saturday morning action serial material into Wagnerian opera.Read more ›
What's good about this particular action movie? Unlike ARMAGEDDON, THE ROCK doesn't attempt to be something more than good action entertainment. There are no synethetic emotions and all that nauseatingly insistent patriotism that seriously marred ARAMGEDDON, despite the fact that the antagonist of this movie is a former general who is looking for restitution for families of soldiers who died in combat under his command. THE ROCK is purely what it is, an action flick. As it turns out, it is a very skillful one at that, with convincing performances from all three leads (Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, and Ed Harris) and exciting action scenes all around.
As for the plot, no, it is not particularly fresh (with elements borrowed from DIE HARD and even PULP FICTION), but the script adds some interesting elements to the equation, particularly with Ed Harris' General Hummel, who all throughout shows significant sympathetic human dimensions that make him stand out from the usual one-dimensional snarling villain. I liked those touches, as well as the twist at the end, in which the villains of the story seem to shift. It is with that twist that THE ROCK truly does stand apart from the action-movie crowd.
I always love a good action movie, and THE ROCK is definitely one of the good (if not absolutely great) ones. Recommended.