The Rock
The Rock (movie)
Directed by Michael Bay
Produced by Don Simpson
Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by Story & Screenplay:
David Weisberg
Douglas S. Cook
Mark Rosner
Quentin Tarantino[1]
Starring Sean Connery
Nicolas Cage
Ed Harris
Michael Biehn
William Forsythe
Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
Hans Zimmer
Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures
Release date(s) June 7, 1996 (U.S.)
June 7, 1996 (Canada)
June 21, 1996 (UK)
July 26, 1996 (Australia)
Running time 136 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$75 million
Gross revenue $335,062,621 (worldwide)

The Rock is a 1996 action film that primarily takes place on Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco Bay area. It was directed by Michael Bay, director of Bad Boys, and stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris. It was produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, producers of Top Gun and Crimson Tide, and released through Disney's Hollywood Pictures. The film is dedicated to Simpson[2], who died five months before its release.


Template:Plot A group of rogue Force Recon Marines led by disenchanted Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris), seize a stockpile of M55 rockets armed with VX gas, a modern chemical weapon with nightmarish legality, from a U.S Navy S.E.A.L/British S.A.S/Royal Marines base. They then seize Alcatraz Island during a guided tour and take 81 tourists hostage in the prison cells. Hummel threatens the Pentagon with launching VX gas rockets against the population of the San Francisco unless the government pays reparations, including compensation to the families of Marines who died on illegal, clandestine missions.

The Pentagon and Federal Bureau of Investigation decide to deploy a Navy SEAL team, led by Commander Anderson (Michael Biehn), to retake the island and free Hummel's hostages by stealth. In need of first-hand knowledge of the underground tunnels of Alcatraz, they are forced to release the imprisoned John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery): the only inmate of Alcatraz who ever successfully escaped (which was covered up). FBI chemical weapons expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage)—socially nerdy and bumbling—is also recruited to neutralize the VX gas threat. The two men and the SEAL team commence their raid on Alcatraz. Meanwhile, the Pentagon prepares a secondary countermeasure to Hummel's VX gas rockets: readying prototype "thermite plasma" bombs capable of incinerating the poison gas, but which will also kill any person left on the island.

FBI Director James Womack (John Spencer) and his West Coast subordinate Ernest Paxton (William Forsythe) direct the SEAL incursion via helmet monitors. Soon after getting onto the island, the SEALs are discovered by the rogue Marines and trapped in the shower room. During a tense exchange between Hummel and Anderson, the SEALs' commander, the SEALs are startled and open fire on the marines. Surrounded, weakly positioned (on lower ground without cover) and with the United States Marine Corps being superiority strong, the SEALs are quickly killed, despite Hummel's pleas for his own men to stop firing, leaving only Goodspeed and Mason alive. Paxton demands they abort the mission, believing there is no way for Mason and Goodspeed to succeed on their own. Womack then reveals Mason's history as a former British SAS officer who had been ordered by his government to steal J. Edgar Hoover's secret files, covering nearly every US state secret from the alien landings at Roswell to the JFK assassination. Captured at the Canadian border thirty years earlier, he has been held secretly and without trial ever since for refusing to reveal the hidden location of the files. Womack hopes Mason's anger and training will be enough to see the mission through.

Mason and Goodspeed repeatedly battle small groups of Marines, every time retreating due to the Marines being superiority strong, and as the night wears on, they manage to remove the guidance chips from thirteen of the fifteen missiles, until finally they are captured close to dawn and left unguarded in holding cells. Mason frees them both with only an hour and two missiles remaining.

Meanwhile, the thermite-plasma weapons are readied, and armed F-18s begin to approach Alcatraz ready to blanket the island, destroying the chemical weapons and killing the hostages. The deadline passes and the Pentagon calls Hummel and asks for another hour to transfer the money. Consequently, the Marines fire one of the two remaining rockets at a football game, but Hummel redirects the missile at the last minute to detonate harmlessly at sea. Having balked at launching against civilian targets, Hummel reveals the nerve gas threat to be a bluff. The marines who loyally served under Hummel agree to end the stand-off, but the Marines, now led by Capt. Frye, who were hired only for this mission decide to fire the remaining missile and a short gun-battle ensues, in which Hummel and his loyalist are killed, with Goodspeed and Mason looking on. They soon rescue Hummel and with his dying breath, Hummel tells Goodspeed the location of the last rocket.

While Mason battles the traitorous Marines, Goodspeed rushes to locate and disarm the last rocket. After extracting the VX from the rocket, Goodspeed is attacked by Frye. Outmatched, Goodspeed uses a VX pearl that fell loose to kill Frye by forcing it into his mouth, thus causing him to die horrifically as well as exposing Goodspeed to the toxin (at a lower concentration). Goodspeed then forcefully injects an antidote (atropine) to save himself. Weakened, he desperately scrambles to the open ground to signal the command center to abort the airstrike, which would needlessly kill many hostages. In a heroic action, Goodspeed runs out into the open and lights up the green flares to stop the bombing. However, the abort command is received too late by the pilots, and one accidentally drops the first of its thermite-plasma payload onto the island. Fortunately, the bomb misses the hostages' cell block, and only throws Goodspeed into the water, where he is promptly rescued by Mason. When the FBI arrives to secure Alcatraz, Goodspeed informs them that escaping Mason was actually "vaporized," hence releasing him to freedom, anonymity, and his estranged daughter. Before his departure, however, Mason tells Goodspeed the location of the secret microfilm he'd stolen, and the movie ends with Goodspeed and his pregnant bride Carla recovering the microfilm, along with half a century of state secrets. Goodspeed also asks Carla if she wants to find out who really killed JFK.


Box officeEdit

Produced at a budget of US $75,000,000, the movie was a smash hit, grossing a total of $134,069,511 domestically and $200,993,110 internationally, for a worldwide total of $335,062,621. It was the 7th highest grossing film of 1996 in the US, and the 4th highest worldwide.[3]


Quentin Tarantino was an uncredited screenwriter on The Rock,[1] along with Jonathan Hensleigh and Aaron Sorkin Template:Fact. Hensleigh in particular was aggrieved to not be credited. LA-based British screenwriting team Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais were brought in at Connery's request to rewrite his lines, but ended up altering much of the film's dialogue, including Goodspeed's reference to LPs sounding better than CDs.Template:Fact The car chase was not in the original script; it was Michael Bay's idea.Template:Fact It was Nicolas Cage's idea that his character wouldn't swear; his euphemisms include 'gee whiz'.

There were tensions during shooting between director Michael Bay and the Walt Disney Company executives who were supervising the production. On the commentary track for the Criterion Collection DVD, Bay recalls a time when he was preparing to leave the set for a meeting with the executives when he was approached by Sean Connery in golfing attire. Connery, who also produced the film, asked Bay where he was going, and when Bay explained he had a meeting with the executives, Connery asked if he could accompany him. Bay complied and when he arrived in the conference room, the executives' jaws dropped when they saw Connery appear behind him. According to Bay, Connery then stood up for Bay and insisted that he was doing a good job and should be left alone.

The scene in which FBI director Womack is thrown off the balcony was filmed on location at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The filming led to numerous calls to the hotel by people who saw a man dangling from the balcony.[4]


In the original UK DVD release, the scene in which Connery throws a knife through a sentry's throat and says "you must never hesitate" to Cage was cut, although this scene was shown on British television.[5] Consequently, a later scene in which Connery says to Cage, "I'm rather glad you didn't hesitate too long" lost its impact on viewers who had not seen the first scene. Other cuts included the reduction of multiple gunshot impacts into Gamble's feet in the morgue down to a single hit; a close-up of his screaming face as the air conditioner falls onto him; a sound cut to Mason snapping a Marine's neck and two bloody gunshot wounds (to Hummel and Baxter), both near the end of the film.[5]

When the film premiered on German television (RTL), it was shown in two versions: the first version (starting at 8:15 pm) had most of its violence and gore cut, going so far as to suggest that some of the terrorists survived. The second version started at 1 am, and left all scenes intact. This scheme was repeated for the second viewing.

The film also received some censorship of profanity in its Asian releases; the terms "fuck" and "Goddamn" are normally omitted or substituted. For instance, whenever Star Movies (a popular Asian movie channel) plays the film, Connery's line in which he says to Cage "winners go home and fuck the prom queen" is replaced with "winners go home and date the prom queen."

Awards and recognitionEdit

The Rock won a number of minor awards, including 'Best On-Screen Duo' for Connery and Cage at the MTV Movie Awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound. It is so far the only Michael Bay film to have been given a "fresh" rating (66%) on Rotten Tomatoes.[6]

The film was selected for a limited edition DVD release by the Criterion Collection, a distributor of primarily arthouse films it categorizes as "important classic and contemporary films" and "cinema at its finest". In an essay supporting the selection of The Rock, Roger Ebert, who was strongly critical of most of Bay's later films, calls it "an action picture that rises to the top of the genre because of a literate, witty screenplay and skilled craftsmanship in the direction and special effects."[7]


External LinksEdit

Template:Michael Bay

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