Often cited as the best of Michael Bay’s 90s action movies, The Rock is a triumph of casting. In pairing the effortlessly suave Sean Connery with the nervy, unpredictable Nicholas Cage, Bay created one of the great odd-couple duos of the decade.
This is Cage before Face/Off and Con Air cemented him as a bankable action star. He was primarily known at this stage for offbeat projects with auteur directors such as the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. He brings a notably more restrained weirdness to this performance in comparison to some of his later hits. At some points he’s almost playing the straight man – a buttoned down special agent increasingly exasperate by Connery’s rakish bad-boy.
As for Connery, playing a former MI5 operative who successfully escaped from Alcatraz, he’s on comfortably Bond-ish ground. His eyebrow is permanently raised and he never appears to break a sweat – even when running for his life from a horde of gun-toting rebel soldiers.
The Rock has all of the hallmarks of a Michael Bay movie, including ridiculously explosive action sequences, a fetishistic worship of the military and the US flag and some truly ludicrous stereotypes. It’s a surprise he hasn’t worked with Cage since – they seem like a match made in popcorn history.
On this week’s episode, we discuss some of our highlights from revisiting The Rock, including Ed Harris’ surprisingly nuanced supervillain, a very memorable Elton John-themed death scene and every action movie cliche you could possibly think of.
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Next week, we conclude our Nicholas Cage trilogy with an iconically awful remake of a classic British horror. Not the bees! But until then, happy listening and remember – San Francisco is a terrible city for a high speed car chase.