Too much blood, too long by a third, too violent in a violent world--but Connery, Cage, and Harris dodging the special effects are irresistible.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Measured as escapist fare, "The Rock" is a smash. Filmed by a crew that glorifies the eerie beauty of Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay, the movie is an overwhelming visual assault on our senses. If you enjoy that kind of thing, then add to it the real fun of watching Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage lift the concept of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid to the realm of James Bond.

Cage keeps us off balance with marvelous unpredictability, acting with alternating bursts of power and nerdishness. Connery, spinning his role with practiced ease, rivets attention every moment he is on-screen. Sophisticated and stylish to the core, he plays in amiable collusion with the audience, proving yet again why his successors always failed to capture the essence of James Bond. There is just one Sean Connery.

Each character is introduced in an explosive display of his specialty. Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris, in chiseled magnificence) takes out the entire guard of the Naval Weapons Depot to steal VX poison-gas rockets, which he will use to hold San Francisco hostage until the U.S. military compensates the families of men who died on illegal covert missions for their country. The decorated marine becomes a terrorist for justice.

Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) bursts into our lives as he clips and snaps his way out of a poison gas explosion in an FBI lab. He's the chemical weapons expert, a little slow with a gun, but a whiz with terrorist chemistry sets. Who will lead our chemist on his mission to deactivate the general's rockets?

The only man alive who can navigate the tunnels of Alcatraz is the one man who has escaped them: John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), presently serving a 30-year term at the mysterious convenience of the present FBI director. We meet him as he blasts through a glass wall to confront his tormentor.

While the cast boasts dozens of actors in varying tones of thriller shrill, there's no looking at anyone else when Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, or Ed Harris is at the center of the mayhem. Connery and Cage, in a Humvee and a yellow Ferrari, chase each other up, down, and around the hills and cable cars of San Francisco. After exhausting each other, they take to the Alcatraz tunnels, while Harris issues ultimatums on his command phone.

A melodramatic score fills the air along with flying cable cars, fruit stands, trucks, bodies, and flames. Sprinkled with marvelous dials, bells, and whistles, "The Rock" rides its violence into the realm of pretend.

The "60-year-old convict and a lab rat" take on the general with a twisted sense of justice, and all of them, amidst the flames, are wrapped in varying degrees of satisfying erudition. Too much blood, too long by a third, too violent in a violent world--but Connery, Cage, and Harris dodging the special effects are irresistible.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : Hollywood Pictures
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h16m

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