Sunday, 3 October 2010

No.58 : The Rock

Fortunately Arts Council funding arrived just in time so that my retrospective on ‘The Rock’ could be thoughly researched by way of a trip to Alcatraz and San Francisco. Well in truth I have just returned from such a trip and thought I’d look up this old friend to see if the added on bull shit was as generous as I’d first thought. And do you know what? We were super sized!

We open in the rain with a fully dress uniformed Ed Harris telling his wife’s tomb stone that he’s off to do something and he hopes she won’t think bad of him. It’s my guess that she won’t on account of being deid.

Meanwhile dependable but slightly unhinged FBI chemical weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed is defusing a large toxic bomb that gives us a few notes for later in the film. He may be dull but he buys $600 Beatles albums so we know he’s a bit of a loose cannon, on eBay at least.

Ed’s plan soon takes shape when he and a bunch of pissed off soldiers rob an army base of its supply of poison gas which looks a lot like Fairy Liquid in ball shape. One of his men gets eaten by the poison so we know from the off what we can expect if it all goes tits up - brave sacrifice soldier. His rabble then take over Alcatraz and demand $200 million for some dead black ops guys or they’ll gas San Francisco. From the start you wonder why the Government don’t just cough up - the Mayor in ‘Dirty Harry’ is keen to pay a ransom in 5 minutes but that was only $100k. The other concern is why they give a 40 hour deadline and why they don’t evacuate the city given the generous preparation time?

The answer is of course that this is a loud and stupid Michael Bay film and pulling plot holes is like trying to empty the Pacific with a colander . With Alcatraz now loaded with missiles and hostages it’s up to Stanley and ex-inmate Sean Connery to save the day. Sean plays an ex-SAS man who’s been banged up for 30 years and is the only man to have escaped ‘The Rock’. The incursion goes well for about two minutes when the hapless marine squad lead by Michael Biehn gets cut down leaving our two star names to save the day, as you’d expect.

What follows is a trip through the theme park version of Alcatraz where our heroes disarm the 15 missiles while dispatching the bad guys in some elaborate ways. Soon we are down to a few missiles and the bad guys are arguing over honour and stuff. Will the city be saved? Well it was there on Monday when I looked…

I like ‘The Rock’ despite its many deficiencies. Yeah it’s loud and unnecessary but it keeps up a good pace with plenty of stunts, explosions and grisly kills to keep you entertained. The prison itself looks great and you can take my word that the real thing does appear, albeit fleetingly. The tour I took did however miss out the flaming discs of death that looked liked they had been nicked from ’Galaxy Quest’ as well as the mine cars off ’Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'. The clue is in the name - the thing is a big rock so where did all these tunnels come from? And what were they mining? Shivs?

The plot is pretty thin and although they attempt to employ a blurring of the lines regarding the bad guys’ motivations it’s not convincing in the least. Speaking of unconvincing, Cage doesn’t convince as a scientist or indeed as an actor as he chooses to keep yelling to try and keep up with Sean’s effortless style and charm.

The film is well padded with well known faces with Candyman and an under used John C. McGinley popping up as well as the lovely Claire Forlani who sadly only gets one scene.

The outcome is never in any doubt and the characters are as thin as cage’s LP but if you go into this expecting some mindless fun and a fantasy version of Alcatraz you won’t be disappointed.

THE Tag Line - ‘The Rock Rocks’ 73%

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