Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reflections on The Rock (1996)

The Rock (1996) is an action-filled movie starring Nicolas Cage (as Stanley Goodspeed), Sean Connery (as John Mason), and Ed Harris (as General Hummel). The plot revolves around Stanley and Mason trying to disable the highly dangerous VX rockets to prevent General Hummel from bombing San Francisco and killing 80,000 people.

Throughout the movie, I wondered why the British intelligence would send a spy to dig up the dirt on US government. I also wondered how Mason retained his ability to make normal conversation with others, and also how he retained his athletic/physical abilities locked up in a prison. He seemed to be in a pretty amazing shape even for his age. Knowing that Mason knows all the dirty secrets about the US government, they probably didn't let anyone talk to him. One would think that someone locked up in a solitary confinement for decades would be driven insane long time ago. Even Al Capone was driven insane after only few years in Alcatraz.

When I began watching the movie, I was not expecting a Hollywood action movie about weapon of mass destruction. I was rather fascinated by the chemical bomb and the biochemist Stanley's job. Although his job isn't exactly something that I would want, I envy his passion for biochemistry. I just hope that I don't hate biochemistry in the coming years, because it sucks to take classes that you hate.

I thought the occupation of Alcatraz by the Marines was rather unrealistic and incredible for the most part. Threatening the government with WMA was even more surprising. Their cause was understandable, and it is a great pity that the general's men died a tragic death, but really, I don't quite see how that leads to blackmailing the government to pay the dead soldiers' families by threatening to kill 80,000 innocent people. As Mason said, I think the General Hummel is "a f***ing idiot." I think they had better chance of getting what they wanted if they had not threatened the San Francisco City with WMA. In a sense, the situation is reminiscent of the Indian occupation of Alcatraz; like the Indians, the Marines had a good cause, but they were too idealistic. Their demands were unrealistic, and the occupations ended up as huge fiascos.



  1. I was also curious about Mason's ability to have normal conversations and how he maintained his physical ability. A big thing in solitary confinement was the effect it had on prisoner's mental state. It basically made them go crazy. Even though he said it was his hope that kept him going, I am not sure that would be enough.
    I thought it was strange how he has Shakespeare in his cell, when it was pitch black. I think reading would have been able to help keep his mental state but I don't understand how he was able to see the text to read it.

  2. I agree that Hummel’s actions were much to harsh. It seems like there are plenty of other alternatives to pay for the reparations for the families of the deceased soldiers. He could have gone public with the information and used the American people to pressure the US government to compensate the families. He could’ve fundraised himself, sold cookies for all I care anything but threaten the lives of 80000 innocent civilians. As a military man I would assume that Hummel cares about his country and the people living in it but his actions say otherwise.

  3. I also wondered how after supposedly being in solitary confinement for so long Mason still had maintained the skills and capabilities of the average person. Besides having good speaking skills and a sharp mind, he was also in great shape, as evidenced by when he was running from the hotel. In addition, when Mason was being chased by Stanley, he managed to drive the Hummer extraordinarily well, which is a skill that most likely would be lost after being contained in solitary confinement for such a long period of time.
    I also agree that General Hummel's actions were too extreme and threatening the lives of 80,000 innocent people was not the best way to convey the soldier's demands.