The Rock - * * * 1/2*

Freneticaly paced action flick truly thrills. When decorated war hero General Hummel (Ed Harris) seizes control of Alcatraz island, holds 81 tourists as hostages, and threatens to launch several rockets laced with chemical weaponry upon San Francisco unless his demands are met, the FBI call their top man: Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), a bookish chemical weapons expert. However, to infiltrate the island, they need someone who knows the underground tunnel system: former Alcatraz prisoner John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), a disavowed British spy detained by the American government for 30 years. Mason was the only person ever to escape Alcatraz, and he reluctantly joins the expedition to go back in. Director Michael Bay keeps the action at high speed with a dizzying concoction of quick editing and bizaare angles that make even the mundane moments in this film seem exciting. To top it off, you have three great performances in the film. Ed Harris gives shading and subtlety to his General, who is far from the maniacal crazy villain of the week. Sean Connery adds his usual dry wit and the occasional Bond reference to his spy-turned-prisoner. Nicolas Cage adds the needed human element to this film, as the out-of-his-element scientist. The dialogue is entertaining and a needed complement to the nonstop action. Although it doesn’t have the CGI special effects extravaganza featured in many of this summer’s other action films, The Rock manages to rise above the rest.

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