The Rock (1996)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Big explosions and action

Bad dialogue, so-so story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Rock

Studio:  Hollywood Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 7, 1996

MPAA Rating:  R


These are not superballs and no you can’t play with them.

Brigadier General Frank Hummel (Ed Harris) has crossed the line and become an enemy of the United States.  With a group of rogue soldiers under his command, Hummel has taken control of Alcatraz with hostages and is threatening to release a dangerous nerve gas over San Francisco unless the United States releases money kept from the sale of illegal weapons sales.  With time running out, chemical weapons specialist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) finds himself teamed with John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) the only man who has ever escaped Alcatraz.  Unfortunately, Mason has been held against his will due to secrets he knows about the U.S. government and is an unwilling participant in the rescue.  The clock is ticking and the lives of hundreds of thousands hand in the balance.


Yeah…I pretty much have this soldier acting thing down

Directed by Michael Bay, The Rock is a big budget action thriller set and shot on Alcatraz and around San Francisco.  The movie did have production problems with Bay having to allegedly defend it while making it, but it was released to big box office number and relatively positive reviews.  The film was also released in a Criterion edition (Criterion #108), but it has been out of print for years.

I’m not a Michael Bay fan, but if I had to pick a “favorite” Michael Bay movie, this probably would be it.  With tons of action, a humorous tone, and Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage being Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, The Rock is kind of what you expect from a Michael Bay movie.


“You’re the Rocket Man”…wow, clever dialogue

The plot for the movie is relatively decent in that it has layers.  The main “bad guy” played by Ed Harris does have some valid points about problems with the government, and it is interesting that Connery, a foreigner and a prisoner of the government, is the one who has to stand up to him.  The movie however is loaded with tons of Michael Bay-isms and too much humor was put into the script that was unnecessary.  If the movie had been a hardcore action film (as it was originally written), I think it might have been better.  It takes itself a bit too lightly with Schwarzenegger-like one-liners that make the movie too tongue-in-cheek.


Yeah! I get to play with sparklers!

Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage do their best to make the movie fun.  Sean Connery eats up the scenery with his normal suave style, but it is interesting to see him attempt to play a bit of a bad guy.  Nicolas Cage (who I am generally split on) also plays his normal character that is slightly goofy and generally forced into action.  Ed Harris is good, like always, as the decorated soldier going rogue and his is backed by a team made up of Michael Biehn, David Morse, and Tony Todd who try to make their rather bland characters their own.  Other actors in minor roles include John Spencer (as the evil government man trying to keep Connery imprisoned), John C. McGinley, Anthony Clark, Jim Caviezel, Raymond Cruz, and Philip Baker Hall.


It’s the San Francisco treat!

Michael Bay is all about the explosions, and The Rock is no different in that sense.  The movie features a rather long chase sequence through the hills of San Francisco involving a Hummer (which did help popularize them) and there are numerous shoot-outs once Alcatraz is raided.  I particularly like all the shots of San Francisco and getting to see the scenery…you just have to avoid the bullets and speeding cars to see it.

The Rock is exactly what you expect from The Rock.  If you have preconceived notions about Michael Bay, they are met, and if you have any stereotypes of the actors involved, they too are just as you’d expect them to be.  The Rock is generic action done well and easy to digest.  It could have been better, but it also could have been much worse.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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