For many movie-goers, even fans of action flicks, heroes and villains that resemble long haul trucks do not make for a satisfying movie experience. For them, this summer's "Transformers: Age of Extinction" would not be a good choice. But its director, Michael Bay, proved his chops with human actors in "The Rock," from 1996.
Set in San Francisco and the former prison Alcatraz, "The Rock" focuses on several men whose personal and professional lives are problematic. Nicolas Cage plays Stanley Goodspeed, a chemical weapons expert who works for the FBI and is accustomed to working in laboratories, not in field situations. Shortly after learning that his girlfriend is pregnant, Stanley is summoned to the city by the bay by FBI Director Womack (played by John Spencer). Stanley's scientific expertise is needed because decorated General Francis Hummel (played by Ed Harris) has hostages on Alcatraz and is planning to launch VX gas rockets into the city unless the government pays benefits to families of soldiers who have died under his command. The director has also enlisted former Alcatraz inmate John Mason (played by Sean Connery), the only person ever to escape the prison, to help with the mission. Stanley and John to with a team of Navy SEALS to the formidable island. When all the trained SEALS are shot and killed, the pair have to diffuse the rockets and stop General Hummel and his men on their own.
"The Rock" is not a very original movie, but it is still fun to watch since it has a lot of memorable action scenes and capable actors to command the screen. We see a human side to John when he tries to locate his long-lost daughter. This leads to a thrilling car chase through the streets of San Francisco.
Nicolas Cage gives an enjoyably over-the-top performance as the nervous but smart Stanley. Sean Connery is amazing as John who, despite having spent decades in prison, is quite tough and resourceful. They make a great team. Ed Harris is equally good. He is more sympathetic than many movie villains.
"The Rock" is Michael Bay's best film.