REVIEW: THE ROCK

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CAST

Sean Connery (Highlander)
Nicolas Cage (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
John Spencer (The Negotiator)
David Morse (Disturbia)
William Forsythe (Raising Arizona)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
Vanessa Marcil (Las Vegas)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Bokeem Woodbine (Total Recall)
Steve Harris (Minority Report)
Claire Forlani (Mallrats)

Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Danny Nucci (Titanic)
Jim Caviezel (The Passion of The Christ)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights)
Pat Skipper (Bosch)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Stuart Wilson (Hot Fuzz)

A group of rogue U.S. Force Recon Marines, led by disenchanted Brigadier General Frank Hummel and his adjutant Major Tom Baxter, seize a stockpile of deadly VX gas–armed M55 rockets. The next day, Hummel and his men seize control of Alcatraz Island and take eighty three tourists hostage. Hummel threatens to launch the rockets against San Francisco unless the government pays $100 million from a military slush fund, which he will distribute to his men and the families of Recon Marines who died on clandestine missions under his command and whose deaths were not compensated.

The Pentagon and FBI develop a plan to retake the island with a U.S. Navy SEAL team led by Commander Anderson, enlisting the FBI’s top chemical weapons specialist, Doctor Stanley Goodspeed. Goodspeed’s confidence, already shaky as he is a “lab rat” with minimal combat training and experience, is further tested when his fiancée Carla reveals she is pregnant. FBI director James Womack is forced to turn to federal prisoner John Mason, a 60-year-old British national who has been imprisoned without charges for three decades. Mason is the only Alcatraz inmate ever to escape the island, doing so in 1963 through uncharted underground tunnels. While in custody at the Fairmont Hotel, Mason flees. He steals a Hummer H1 and Goodspeed pursues in a commandeered Ferrari F355, resulting in a chase through the streets. Mason seeks out his estranged daughter Jade; Goodspeed arrives with a team to re-arrest Mason, revealing to Jade that he is aiding the FBI.

Goodspeed, Mason, and the SEALs infiltrate Alcatraz. However, Hummel’s Marines are alerted to their presence and ambush them in a shower room. All the SEALs, including Anderson, are killed, leaving only Mason and Goodspeed alive. Mason sees his chance to escape custody and disarms Goodspeed, but Goodspeed convinces him to help defuse the rockets, since Mason’s daughter is also at risk. Mason and Goodspeed eliminate several teams of Marines and disable 12 of the 15 rockets by removing their guidance chips. Hummel threatens to execute a hostage if they do not surrender and return the guidance chips. Mason destroys the chips, then surrenders to Hummel, trying to reason with him as well as buy Goodspeed some time. Though Goodspeed disables another rocket, the Marines capture him. With the incursion team lost, the military initiates their backup plan: an air strike by F/A-18s with thermite plasma, which will neutralize the poison gas but kill everyone on the island.

Mason and Goodspeed escape, and Mason explains why he was held prisoner: he was a British SAS Captain who stole a microfilm containing details of the United States’s most closely guarded secrets, refusing to give it up when captured because he knew he would be killed if he did. When the deadline for the transfer of the ransom arrives, Hummel and his men fire one of the operational rockets. During the launch of the rocket Hummel changes the coordinates and diverts the rocket away from its original target and instead detonates at sea. Hummel then reveals that the mission is over and it was all a very elaborate bluff, as he never had any intention of taking innocent lives. When confronted by two of his men, Captain Frye and Darrow, Hummel orders them to exit Alcatraz with a few hostages and the remaining rocket to cover their retreat, while he will assume blame. Realizing they will not be paid their $1 million apiece, Frye and Darrow mutiny against Hummel and Baxter, killing the latter and mortally wounding the former.

Darrow and Frye proceed with the plan to fire on San Francisco. While Mason deals with the remaining Marines, Goodspeed seeks out the last rocket, which Hummel reveals the location of with his dying breath. As the jets approach, Goodspeed kills both Darrow and Frye, disarming the rocket. He signals the jets that the threat is over but not before one jet releases a bomb on the island. Though no hostages are injured, Goodspeed is thrown into the sea by the blast before Mason rescues him. Goodspeed tells Mason that Womack tore up his pardon, then informs his superiors that Mason was killed in the bomb explosion. Mason gives Goodspeed a note that holds the location of the microfilm and the two part ways. Some time later, Goodspeed and Carla recover the microfilm containing a half-century of state secrets, including who actually killed John F. Kennedy.

Directed with vigour by Michael Bay, and featuring a talented cast who get right into the spirit of things, this is an enjoyable romp. With plenty of big stunts, gun fights, explosions, thrills and spills along the way it’s big and loud and a lot of fun.

REVIEW: WORLD TRADE CENTER

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Maria Bello (A History of Violence)
Connor Paolo (Mystic River)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Nicholas Turturro  (NYPD Blue)
Danny Nucci (The Rock)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Brad William Henke (Lost)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
William Mapother (Powers)
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Frank Whaley (Luke Cage)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)

On September 11, 2001, Port Authority Police officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno are patrolling the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan when they see a plane fly dangerously low overhead. As all of the police officers return to the station, they see on TV that the North Tower of the World Trade Center has been hit by the plane. Sergeant McLoughlin assigns many of the officers to assist in a precautionary evacuation attempt of the North Tower and they board a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus. On the bus, they hear reports that the South Tower is also hit by another plane. When they arrive at the World Trade Center, they realize the extent of the disaster, and see one of the victims jump out of the towers to certain death. The men proceed to get safety equipment from Building 5 and enter the concourse between the towers.

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The group consists of McLoughlin, Jimeno, Dominick Pezzulo and Antonio Rodrigues. Officer Christopher Amoroso appears to inform them of other events, such as the attack on the Pentagon, the second plane’s hit on the South Tower and an attack on Israel though the group does not accept any of these as true. As the men prepare to enter the North Tower, the buildings begin to rumble. McLoughlin realizes that the South Tower is collapsing onto them and that their only chance of survival is to run into the service elevator shaft. Amoroso trips and does not have time to get up. Rodrigues is unable to get to the shaft in time. McLoughlin, Jimeno and Pezzulo manage to escape the huge amounts of dust and rubble flying down from the South Tower. However, as the rubble continues to crush the elevator shaft, the three are trapped. As the cascade of debris subsides, Pezzulo realizes he can free himself and manages to move nearer to Jimeno who, along with McLoughlin, is pinned under rubble and cannot move. Pezzulo tries but fails to shift the debris covering Jimeno’s legs and is instructed by McLoughlin not to leave.
As Pezzulo becomes optimistic that they will live, the rumbling begins again as the North Tower starts to collapse. Although Jimeno and McLoughlin are not further harmed, Pezzulo is fatally injured when a concrete slab falls into the hole, crushing his torso. After he fires a gun through a gap in the rubble to try to alert rescuers to their position, he dies. Jimeno and McLoughlin spend hours under the rubble, in pain but exchanging stories about their lives and families. McLoughlin is particularly anxious to keep Jimeno from falling asleep and Jimeno also realizes that by straining to grab a metal bar above his body, he can make a noise that rescuers might hear. Two United States Marines, Dave Karnes and Jason Thomas, who are searching for survivors, do hear it and find the men, calling for help to dig them out. Jimeno is rescued first, and then hours later McLoughlin is lifted out of the debris, barely alive and in critical condition. They are then both reunited with their distraught families at the hospital. Two years after the attacks, McLoughlin and Jimeno attend a barbecue with their families: McLoughlin’s wife Donna, Jimeno’s wife Allison, daughter Bianca, and their newest addition Olivia.The epilogue states that John and Will were two of the 20 people pulled out alive and are now retired from active duty. Dave Karnes re-enlisted in the Marines.
Nice to see a different spin on the 9/11 tragedies, whilst maintaining the true grit of the overall tragedy.