In honor of the latest Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, it seems appropriate to spotlight one of his productions as a guilty pleasure. I thought of going with Con Air or Pearl Harbor, but both are so ridiculously silly I don't feel guilty in finding enjoyment in them. So, I picked a movie for which my love isn't so innocent: The Rock.
The thing is, The Rock is actually a good movie. It is well-imagined, well-structured, and exceptionally well-cast. Its story is smart, its dialogue is witty and its action is overflowing. When it opened, The Rock received a respectable amount of favorable reviews, mostly from populist critics including Roger Ebert, Janet Maslin and Peter Travers. Five years later, it garnered a prestigious Criterion DVD release.
So why do I feel so guilty for liking it?
A guilty pleasure is something accepted as bad but appreciated, or at least enjoyed, anyway. So, if The Rock was so well-received, then how does it count? Because, from what I can tell, the movie no longer carries the acclaim and respect it originally had. Mainly, its director, Michael Bay, has become a joke in the world of film criticism, each of his subsequent movies worse than the previous and his trademark style now cliche. Also, there is now too much attention drawn to The Rock's unnecessary, divergent car chase through San Francisco, citing it as the film's point of failure.
Well, the car chase is my most guilty pleasure with the film, then. Sure it's disposable, but in a movie so inclusive of every sort of action imaginable, it fits in the package deal. The scene also serves as the one real battle between Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery in a movie that continually plays with and blurs the roles of hero, antihero and villain. It makes sense to have that one moment where Connery is still not really a "good guy". So we get to see Cage go after Connery, then team up and go after Ed Harris, and then team up with him (even if its too late) and go after the really heartless marines. Plus, the sequence allows for an extra bit with the late, great John Spencer.
Sure it's easy for film critics to now generalize Bay's oeuvre as trash, but it is important to recognize The Rock as his one achievement. Otherwise by generalizing, critics gain a reputation for being dismissively prejudice. Certainly no film critic wants to be known for being ignorant, so hopefully others may join me and admit how good The Rock is. Then, I can stop feeling so guilty.