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Film / The Rock

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"Call the Pentagon and the San Francisco office. It seems that Alcatraz has just reopened."
FBI Director James Womack

A 1996 action movie directed by Michael Bay, starring Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery (playing an aging Expy of James Bond), Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, and Tony Todd.

The Rock tells the story of USMC Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel (Harris) who, enraged at how his men have been treated by the country that they served, steals 15 rockets of VX nerve gas and holes up on Alcatraz Island (hence the title), threatening to kill most of San Francisco unless the government gives him a buttload of money to help out military widows and orphans.

The administration responds by sending in Stanley Goodspeed (Cage), a chemical warfare expert, and John Mason (Connery), a British MI-6 agent turned Alcatraz fugitive turned full-time convict. Oh, and a SEAL team led by Michael Biehn, but they don't last long...

A late draft of the script was written by none other than Quentin Tarantino (who wasn't a member of the Writer's Guild at the time, and so was uncredited). Aaron Sorkin also did some work on the script, writing some of the dialogue between Goodspeed and Mason.

Has nothing to do with the pro wrestler.

Includes examples of:

  • Action Duo: Goodspeed and Mason.
  • Action Insurance Gag: During the chase sequence through San Francisco, Mason crashes the stolen Humvee into another car, and yells "I hope you're insured!" out the window at the driver.
  • Action Survivor: Goodspeed starts like this before becoming a real Action Hero.
  • Actor Allusion: John Mason being a former British spy is clearly "James Bond if he was arrested by the Americans". Sean Connery even repeats one of his lines from Diamonds Are Forever (previously used in Rising Sun):
    Goodspeed: I'm Stanley Goodspeed.
    Mason: But of course you are!
  • Affably Evil: General Hummel. He's polite, won't take children hostage and isn't actually out to wipe out innocent civilians.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: General Hummel. His downfall and Redemption Equals Death are treated sympathetically.
  • The Alcatraz: The original, naturally. ("The Rock" being its nickname among the prisoners).
  • Anti-Villain: Hummel (Type III -> Type I, with some Type II thrown in). He just wants compensation for the families of dead soldiers, and though he is using extreme methods, he specifically demands money from a source that will not harm anyone (a Pentagon slush fund for arms sales), he sends the children away before taking over Alcatraz, he very much regrets his men killing the SEALs, and in the end he was bluffing the entire time. Pity his men weren't.
    Hummel: I'm not about to kill 80,000 innocent people! Do you think I'm out of my fucking mind? We bluffed, they called it. The mission is over.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Baxter says "sorry" to the Marine he locked inside the storage room when a canister of VX ruptures during the armory heist.
    • Sergeant Crisp when he joins the mutiny against Hummel.
    • Hummel himself as he takes the Alcatraz tourists as hostages.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry:
    • The VX gas description is fairly accurate, but it is portrayed in the film as bright green (it's actually colorless) and melting a person's skin (it attacks the nervous system only).
    • As was noted by the film's screenwriter, real-life chemical weapons are never stored in the same way as the ones here. It should probably be evident as to why just by watching the film, as the long strings of glass beads are incredibly unwieldy and fragile and cause a lot of deaths and near-deaths as a result. Real VX gas when weaponized typically has its components divided into multiple cells that are only dangerous when mixed.
  • Artistic License – History: Mason is said to have been imprisoned in Alcatraz in 1962 for stealing a set of microfilm files from the FBI containing (among other things) the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Which is a bit strange, considering Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. (Although this might suggest that certain figures within the US government were already conspiring to have him killed a year before he actually died)
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In the film, the SEALs are instructed to inject themselves atropine directly to their hearts if they ever happen to breath VX gas. While atropine is certainly a viable antidote for the effects of the gas, injecting it on the thigh would be just as fine and infinitely safer than the heart. In fact, judging by the size of the injector's spike, it's a miracle that Goodspeed didn't accidentally kill himself by stab wound when he gave himself his shot (especially due to the dramatic, jamming motion he used instead of injecting it in a more controlled way).
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • One of Hummel's Marines has a topknot haircut, something that would most definitely not be allowed in any military, let alone the U.S. Marine Corps. The men on the island are Marine Force Recon, a Special Forces division, which are given considerably more leeway when it comes to grooming rules, not to mention that the Marine might no longer have been in active service before the operation, but it still seems unlikely he'd choose it (it's a really stupid haircut for anyone in the military to wear - it's a great handhold for an opponent in a fight, not to mention painful). Captain Frye also has a non-regulation haircut, sporting a nineties boyband style open curtains fringe, which is hilariously at odds with his psychotic bulging eyes.
    • Baxter calls Frye a soldier. The president, in his speech down below, calls Hummel the same thing. Hummel and Frye are Marines, and no Marine would be called a soldier in real life.
    • Anderson is first introduced as the Navy SEALs' "ground commander". But there's no such thing: the SEALs are divided into designated "teams" that all have their own commander, and (as their name implies) they're all supposed to be prepared to serve in airborne, maritime, and ground-based engagements depending on the situation. Since he's shown leading a unit in the field, Anderson should technically just be the commander of the SEAL team assigned to the liberation of Alcatraz.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    Major Baxter: The men are falling apart!
    General Hummel: The men are Marines!
    Major Baxter: Are they?
  • Ax-Crazy: Frye and Darrow. Frye's eyes look like they're about to pop, and he's chomping at the bit to blow up San Francisco, constantly reminding Hummel of the time to launch the missiles. Even before that, when Hummel and his men have the SEALs cornered in the shower room and Hummel tries to talk SEAL Commander Anderson into surrendering, it's also Frye who intentionally provokes the shootout (by dropping some furniture that startles one of the SEALs into firing, to which Frye and the other rogue Marines respond with deadly accuracy). Darrow on the other hand is rather eager to cut up someone who is holding up a batch of very fragile VX gas capsules.
  • Badass Bookworm: Stanley Goodspeed. Also Mason, who presumably became one while in prison.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Heist where Hummel's Marines steal the XV rockets takes place during a rainstorm at night.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Goodspeed was probably the first person in 30 years to treat Mason with respect and without being entirely duplicitous. He later tells Mason's daughter that her father is assisting the FBI (omitting the part where Mason trashed half the city escaping custody). Mason begrudgingly takes Goodspeed under his wing and protects him against the Marines.
  • Been There, Shaped History: When making his initial demands, Hummel says that his men were responsible for lazing out targets for smart bombs during Operation Desert Storm.
  • Big Bad: Gen. Hummel is the mastermind of the crisis, before his underlings make it worse at the end.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's good that the hostages were rescued, but still sad that the Marines who died in covert ops will never have money sent to their families. Also they lost the entire SEAL team. It was arguably quite a good cause despite the evil methods used to support it.
    • Although quite possibly ultimately subverted, given that by the end of the film, Goodspeed has a microfilm full of government secrets — including the killer of JFK! — which he could most likely use to, ahem, "encourage" the government into coughing up the money anyway.
  • Blast Out: When Hummel informs Captains Frye and Darrow plus Gunny Crisp that he plans to abort the mission, a Mexican standoff ensues, with Hummel's second-in-command Major Baxter being the only one not participating. When Frye tells him to pick a side, Baxter opens up on the mutinous officers.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Goodspeed describing Mason's death. It's pretty obvious at least half of the people he's telling knows he's BSing them, but they couldn't do anything about it without proof. Paxton in particular seems even happy about it.
    • There's also the earlier scene where Goodspeed tells Mason that he's an FBI field agent trained in weapons and combat. Goodspeed is good in many areas, but fighting is not one of them.
  • Body Horror: Getting exposed to VX gas causes the skin to boil and melt off your body. And that's before getting into what it does to someone on the inside...
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Uttered by, appropriately enough, Sean Connery after he throws a knife into a Marine's throat (who watched the knife flying towards him while screaming).
      "You must never hesitate."
    • Goodspeed gets one too when he uses the rocket to dispatch Darrow.
      "How'd you like how that shit works?"
  • Boring, but Practical: Since they can't give him a weapon, the SEAL team gives Mason a survival kit loaded with washers, matches and a kerosene bottle. Considering his training, this alone is deadly in his hands, which he demonstrates by using the kerosene and matches to light up an enemy Marine.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: Mason escapes from FBI custody and hijacks a Humvee, leading to an extended Chase Scene through the streets of San Francisco. During the chase, the Humvee's owner calls Mason on the carphone and berates him for stealing his car, to which Mason retorts "I'm only borrowing your Humvee!"
  • Boxed Crook: John Mason.
  • Brick Joke: A morbidly hilarious one: Goodspeed is listening to the Elton John song "Rocket Man" early in the film with his girlfriend. This leads to his Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
  • Camp Gay: The hairstylist.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: This is part of why Mason never cut a deal with the Feds after being originally captured. He knew withholding the now-hidden microfilm's location was ironically the only thing keeping him alive. Mason knew that the moment the Feds finally got their hands on the microfilm, they'd "suicide" him.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • Goodspeed, when he's working:
    Stanley: I have some bad news, and some really bad news. The bad news is that the gas is corrosive and it's eating our suits. The really bad news is there is enough C-4 explosive and poison gas to blow the whole chamber and everyone in the building, detonation: 2 minutes.
    • Note also his explanation of VX nerve gas to Mason while disarming the rocket.
    Stanley (While he's handling the unstable VX capsules): It stops the brain from sending nerve messages down the spinal cord within 30 seconds. Any epidermal exposure or inhalation, and you'll know. A twinge at the small of your back as the poison seizes your nervous system. Your muscles freeze, you can't breathe... you spasm so hard you break your own back and spit your guts out. But that's after your skin melts off.
  • The Chains of Commanding: It's pretty clear the President is torn up by the whole situation. He's disgusted by how Hummel and his men have been treated, but can't acquiesce to their blackmail. He also values the lives of the hostages, but has to do the unpleasant math of several dozen hostages versus several hundred thousand potential casualties and reluctantly authorizes the air strike.
    President: These past few hours have been the longest and darkest of my life. How does one weigh human life? One million civilians against 81 hostages. And in the middle: Frank Hummel. That we have ignored, abandoned, or marginalized a great soldier like Frank Hummel - and that American boys have paid for that neglect in blood - is equally real, and equally tragic. We are at war with terror. Fighting a war means casualties. This is the worst call I've ever had to make.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Mason decides to escape from Alcatraz near the end after deducing that Hummel won't have the heart to launch the missiles, but because the Goodspeed refuses to leave the mission incomplete (and is a lousy fighter), Mason comes back in time to save the good doctor.
  • Chase Scene: The car chase scene utilizes just about every trope on that list.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The atropine and signal flares.
    • The motion sensor one of the Marines installs.
    • Mason's "special operations gear": kerosene, washers and waterproof matches. The kerosene and matches he uses to set a Marine on fire, and the washer is used to break out of an Alcatraz prison cell.
    • The single sphere of VX-2.
  • Chest of Medals: General Hummel's dress uniform. It's used to establish his credentials: during the opening credits, we see him put it on, and even when we know nothing else about him, the sheer amount of medals on his chest shows that this man is a war hero who is very good at what he does.
  • Clipboard of Authority: Used by one of the Mooks during the opening VX heist as part of the inspection being made by Hummel. When he hands the clipboard off to a soldier on duty, the other Mook shoots the guards with a brace of tranquilizer guns.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The "There is no fucking money" scene.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: After the SEALs are gunned down, it's up to Goodspeed and Mason to take down the Marines. Doesn't work out so well for the Marines.
  • Cool Car: Ferrari chases Hummer.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mason defines this.
  • Cringe Comedy: The scene in which Womack urges Goodspeed to persuade Mason to help the FBI. Goodspeed has no interrogation experience he nervously adopts his usual friendly demeanour. Mason is clearly amused by Goodspeed's awkward bumbling.
  • Crucified Hero Shot - Several when Goodspeed uses the atropine and later deploys the green flares. He even "comes back from the dead" when Mason pulls him out of the water, and his name is also very appropriate.
  • Cultured Badass: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes" and other quotes. Hummel seems more Wicked Cultured.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Heist at the beginning of the film has Hummel's forces completely manhandle the garrison guarding the VX rockets with a brutal display of Non-Lethal Warfare, only taking casualties because one of them screwed up the sequence to take the rockets.
    • The battle between the SEALs and Hummel's forces, popularly known as the Shower Room Massacre.
  • Curse Cut Short: See Killed Mid-Sentence.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mason and Goodspeed.
  • Deadly Dodging: The fist fight between Mason and a Mook near the end.
  • Deadly Gas: And they have the decency of using one that actually exists. However, VX is not glowing green, and it's not a blister agent. It's a nerve agent. So no, you don't die with your face melting off and your clothes smoking. Instead, your nerves stop working, resulting in paralysis. It also definitely isn't stored the way it is in the film. The rest is accurate, though.
  • Death Faked for You: Mason in the end, by Goodspeed.
  • Delayed Safety Feature: Cage's Ferrari has one weird airbag system. Bouncing off various obstacles on a rocky run down a San Francisco hill, plowing through at least a half dozen parking meters, and going through a very bumpy spin out don't set off the car's airbag, but sitting still apparently does, as the bag deploys a half second after he comes to a stop. It delays again in that it doesn't immediately deflate like it should, either. The QA department was sound asleep that day.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Played with when one of the green spheres of V-X drops off the end of the set Goodspeed is disarming. With the rest of the fragile spheres taking up both hands, he can't spare one to catch the runaway, but he uses the springy laces on top of his boot to give it a soft landing, then puts the others down very carefully and intercepts the fallen one before it can roll off a ledge and break.
  • Destination Defenestration: One of the guards at the Navy depot gets blown out a window of his watchtower by a Force Recon Marine wielding a beanbag-round equipped Grenade Launcher.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: The car chase sees Mason crash through a delivery truck for the now defunct Yosemite Waters. Goodspeed's "borrowed" Ferrari is also turned into scrap metal by the end of the scene.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: This movie could be described as Die Hard at Alcatraz.
  • Disco Dan: Stanley when it comes to music. He prefers vinyl to CDs.
  • Disney Villain Death: Many of the evil Marines suffer this.
  • Distract and Disarm: Following a massacre of the SEAL team that leaves only elderly convict John Mason and meek FBI specialist Stanley Goodspeed alive, Mason decides Screw This, I'm Outta Here and attempts to leave Alcatraz Island. Goodspeed pulls his sidearm on Mason and orders him to stop; Mason first intimidates him, then remarks "Besides, the safety's on." Half a second after Goodspeed looks down he finds his own gun pointed at his face.
  • The Dragon:
    • David Morse's Major Baxter to Ed Harris' General Hummel. He eventually follows Hummel in his Heel–Face Turn and gets killed along with him.
    • Darrow is also Captain Frye's Dragon.
  • Dramatic Irony: Some between Hummel and Mason during their first conversation. Hummel accuses Mason of not knowing what it's like to see your government betray the memory of their soldiers. Mason himself has spent half his life in prison (including Alcatraz) because the British disavowed him.
  • Due to the Dead: Hummel closes the eyes of a Navy SEAL killed in the shower room.
  • Elevator Snare: Mason takes a lift down six or seven stories and Stanley takes the stairs. The resulting increase in lead = 0.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • Marine Corps Force Recon faces off against the Navy SEALs and a former member of the British Special Air Service. And a FBI technician. Zig-Zagged—the Recon takes down the SEALs, but are killed by one SAS.
    • Also, it's the untrained in combat, inexperienced in the field Goodspeed who ends up defusing the situation (and the bombs.)
  • Enemy Civil War: Occurs briefly near the end of the film when Frye and Darrow mount a mutiny against Hummel after he reveals the whole plan was just a bluff and never intended to use the VX against a civilian population. Only Baxter sides with Hummel and both of them are killed in an ensuing stand-off.
    • It only happens after Hummel loses most of his loyalists like Captain Hendrix and his men to Mason and Goodspeed, leaving Frye and Darrow and their loyalists in charge.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Hummel telling the children to leave Alcatraz before he takes over. Before that, during the opening credits, we see him put on his dress uniform, which is covered in medals. We then see him walking through a cemetery, and when he passes the honour guard of a fallen Marine, he immediately salutes as he walks past. This tells us everything we need to know about him: he's a highly decorated war hero who is utterly loyal to his men and to fallen soldiers.
    • When Hummel formally gets his right-hand men acquainted with each other, we learn Major Baxter has served with Hummel the longest, since the Vietnam War; Sergeant Crisp served with Hummel in Desert Storm; and Captains Frye and Darrow had never served with Hummel before. Frye and Darrow have no loyalty whatsoever to Hummel, and are the first to mutiny against him; Crisp, who had served with Hummel in only one major operation, hesitates before siding with Frye and Darrow; and finally Major Baxter, who is old friends with Hummel, pretends to turn on him at first but then shoots Crisp dead before he himself is killed, proving his Undying Loyalty to Hummel.
    • While Hummel is trying to convince the SEALs to stand down, Frye impatiently whispers "Let's waste these fuckers" and proceeds to intentionally start the shootout by knocking down some masonry, startling a SEAL into firing. This establishes him as an Ax-Crazy Sociopathic Soldier.
    • Goodspeed using a toy gun on his Rube Goldberg device followed by coolly deactivating a bomb under extreme pressure—he's an eccentric badass.
    • Mason mentioning Alcibiades, Sir Walter Raleigh and Solzhenitsyn shows he is a Cultured Badass. Goodspeed recognizing those names also foreshadows their partnership.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Hummel never shows any regret for what he did, but in the end he makes it clear it was all a bluff, and he's not about to launch neurotoxins on an unsuspecting city full of innocent people.
    • Some of the Marines, notably Sergeant Crisp express their dismay that they will be forced to kill civilians in order to earn their pay. It ultimately does not dissuade them though from seeing the plan through when the other Marines mutiny against Hummel.
    • Even as the FBI Director with his own share of sins and misdeeds, Womack is nonethless genuinely shocked by Hummel's revelation of the Pentagon's slush fund from illegal arms sales.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: All the Navy SEALs die pretty quickly, leaving just Mason and Goodspeed.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Mason crashes into a meter maid's vehicle during the car chase and it is still capable of making a fireball that brings down telephone lines. Also, the cable car that is wrecked later in the chase.
  • Expert Consultant: After terrorists armed with VX poison gas take over Alcatraz Island, the government enlists FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed (a chemical weapons specialist) and former British Intelligence agent John Mason (the only prisoner who ever escaped Alcatraz) to breach the prison and neutralize the rockets. When their Navy SEAL escorts are wiped out they have to work together to stop the terrorists.
  • Expy:
    • John Mason, a character who is basically an old James Bond in all but name. Even shares his background and is played by Sean Connery.
    • Hummel, on the other hand, is basically Big Boss.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Major Baxter elects to die with his lifelong comrade rather than desert him when Frye and Darrow mutiny against Hummel.
  • Fallen Hero: Hummel is a highly decorated former USMC General.
  • Famous for Being First: John Mason (Sean Connery) was a former inmate at Alcatraz Island, having been wrongfully imprisoned for possessing a micro-film exposing the darkest secrets of the U.S. government, and is the first and only inmate, in the prison's history, to successfully escape. This is why he's recruited to infiltrate the prison and stop General Hummel's plans.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Hummel puts his pistol behind him rather than his holster before Capts. Darrow and Frye confront him about their missile missing its target. When Hummel reveals the entire missile threat was a bluff, Darrow and Frye don't take it well and launch a revolt. When Darrow tells Crisp to remove Hummel's pistol, Crisp thinks the pistol's in his holster before Hummel reveals the pistol, turning the situation into a Mexican Standoff.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Stanley does it to hijack a Ferrari during the car chase. Which gets destroyed, of course.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Carla wearing a feather trimmed robe to cover her bra and panties clad body as she and Stanley are making love.
  • Foil: Hummel and Mason. Hummel thinks he's gotten shunned by the government he'd dedicated his life to, while Mason actually was shunned by his government, to the point that he doesn't exist to them. When they face one another, Hummel shares an American quote extolling patriotism, while Mason shares an Irish one lambasting it.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: The Filipino chef cusses out Sean Connery as he barges through the hotel's kitchens.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the shower room scene, Hummel is unwilling to shoot the SEALs while in contrast Frye and Darrow are eager to do it and take enjoyment in doing so.
      • It's established early on that Frye and Darrow aren't from Hummel's unit, suggesting that their motives lean more towards "mercenary" than "patriot."
    • Also, the love scene between Goodspeed and his girlfriend is to the sound of "Rocket Man", which he brings up for the Pre-Mortem One-Liner below.
    • Most every scene Hummel has somehow foreshadows he doesn't actually have it in him to carry out his plan. It's to the point where even Mason can tell after meeting the general once that that's just not the kind of man Hummel is.
  • Four-Star Badass: Hummel, just a One-Star Badass, but the medals and commendations read about him show that he's a legend in the military.
  • General Ripper: Averted with Hummel. He never intended to kill innocent people and was bluffing when he threatened to launch nerve gas at San Francisco. During the standoff with the SEALs in the shower room, Hummel tries to convince the SEALs to surrender peacefully and is horrified when the situation escalates into a shootout.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Carla put them on once, since it seems Stanley has a thing for them.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: FBI lab geek Stanley Goodspeed's girlfriend, Carla, is played by model/actress Vanessa Marcil. Lampshaded between Mason and Goodspeed:
    Mason: Losers always whine about "their best." Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
    Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Notably averted. Though Mason has been in jail for over two decades following his escape, he seems perfectly sane and has no trouble carrying on a conversation (or a car chase for that matter). He explains to Goodspeed that he managed to keep himself sane by holding out hope that he'd be able to see his daughter again, or that the British government would arrange his release.
  • Good All Along: Played With. While Hummel uses extremist methods to get revenge for all the lives that were lost under his command, he was never going to launch the rockets and kill innocent people. Sadly, his men don't think the same and kill him.
    • Mason is often shown and remarked upon as a man who will do anything and everything he can to escape, being justifiably vindictive about his long imprisonment. But with most chances he gets, he never makes a getaway, instead electing to help the SEALs, Goodspeed, and stopping the VX rockets. His first escape attempt was even just to meet up with his daughter.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Hummel is such a non-malevolent antagonist that he never stops to consider for a moment that some of his men are Only in It for the Money rather than his visionary politics.
  • Good Versus Good: Hummel, extreme methods notwithstanding, was merely trying to have the lives and sacrifices of his men honored in the only way he saw possible: It was a war between equally-righteous Heroes until Frye and Darrow show their true bloodthirsty colors and take over command.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: An unusual example. Womack initially gets Paxton to offer the terms of the deal to Mason, and Paxton is aggressive and intimidating, an approach that has little effect upon him. In desperation, Womack urges Goodspeed to talk to him, and as Goodspeed has no interrogation experience he nervously adopts his usual friendly demeanour. Mason seems more amused than anything else.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: During the VX-rocket heist at the beginning of the film, half of Hummel's men use grappling hook-equipped shotguns to rappel into the depot.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: The bad guy Marines pitch a grenade at Stanley Goodspeed, who grabs it and tosses it back at them. Later on, Frye does it to Mason, except he cooks the grenades so Mason can't do this.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Hummel vs the US Government has shades of this, while General Hummel is a terrorist threatening the lives of thousands, he's ultimately a Well-Intentioned Extremist and a Noble Demon fighting for the lives of the men he lost, and was ultimately bluffing about launching the missiles and had no intention of killing innocent people. Meanwhile the government, while well intentioned enough, never even considers Hummel's proposition and was willing to risk the lives of thousands in the process.
  • Guile Hero: Stanley Goodspeed is terrible at physical confrontations, relying on Mason for most of the bloodshed. But that does not make him a coward or idiot. He defuses the VX rockets, drives through traffic to recapture Mason, and still manages to take out a few of the Marines with his ingenuity.
  • Guns Akimbo: At least two of the Marines during the heist at the beginning of the film are shown wielding a Tranquillizer Dart gun in each hand.
  • Hate Sink: FBI director James Womack is an obnoxious Obstructive Bureaucrat responsible for imprisoning John Mason for the latter stealing microfilms with state secrets. Recruiting Mason to stop General Hummel from firing a missile on San Francisco, Womack promises Mason freedom with no intent to keep his word, even tearing up a document to demonstrate his intent. Even after being told Mason is dead, Womack attempts to pry the location of his body out of bitterness.
  • Helpless Window Death: During the rocket theft scene, VX gas is accidentally released from containment, forcing the marines to evacuate the area as quickly as possible; one of them doesn't make it to the door before it's sealed shut, and the marines can only watch through a window as the poor bastard dies from exposure to VX.
  • Hero Stole My Bike:
    • Stanley:
      Guy: Hey, man, you just fucked up your Ferrari!
      Stanley: It's not mine. Neither is this.
    • Mason and the Humvee also qualify. When the vehicle's outraged owner calls the Humvee's phone, Mason responds "I'm only borrowing it".
  • Hired Guns: Darrow points out to Hummel that the moment they took hostages that the Marines became mercenaries and that mercenaries are supposed to get paid.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • One of the Marines starts beating up Mason, calls him an "English prick". (The character's from Glasgow, but ID'd himself as SAS earlier). He takes a few more pokes at Mason, then goes "I tell you my old man was Irish?"
    • The Joint Chiefs also reference Hummel's Vietnam-era missions into China, a long-term conspiracy theory about the latter days of that war.
    • Also, what Goodspeed reads on the microfilm at the end. Who Shot JFK?...?
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Frye and Darrow, who were most eager to launch the missiles, are exposed to the lethal substance and launched on one of the rockets respectively.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The SEAL team refuses to lay down their arms and be taken prisoner, despite being surrounded and clearly having no chance of winning a firefight against the enemy Marines.
    • Stanley courageously continuing the mission to stop Hummel alone in spite of having virtually none of the combat abilities of Mason, who has just abandoned him.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Hummel didn't realize that Frye and Darrow were amoral mercenaries until it was too late.
  • Horrifying the Horror: John Mason is a former spy, professional escape artist, and a maximum security prisoner for over 30 years, so he has seen and probably done some of the worst shit humanity has to offer, but Goodspeed's description of the VX nerve agent manages to rattle even him.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Hummel. His eyes are the focus in several of the camera shots of his face.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Darrow falls on a sharp fence post after he has been propelled through the window by the rocket fired by Goodspeed..
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Stanley Goodspeed's firing technique is, to put it charitably, hilariously fucking bad.
    • Also the SEAL team, including Commander Anderson himself, in the end. Justified in their case as they're trying to shoot at the Marines from a disadvantageous position.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy:
    • Mason kills Private Scarpetti with a thrown knife to the throat.
    • Hummel kills Sgt. Crisp by shooting him in the throat.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's stylist, not barber.
  • Instant Sedation: The raid on the Naval Weapons Depot has the Marines do this to pretty much the entire base to acquire the VX rockets.
  • Insult Backfire: Goodspeed gets in a zinger at Mason's expense when Mason mocks him for his Give Geeks a Chance attitude.
    Mason: Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
    Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Done subtly. Hummel's Marines end up doing battle with Anderson's Navy SEALs. Understandably, they don't get along. Mason himself is from the British Army.
  • Ironic Echo: "Welcome to the Rock."
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Kind of. There's no funeral, but it's pouring when Hummel goes to visit his wife's grave, just prior to his theft of the nerve gas. He's more or less apologizing to her for what he's going to do. However, it's also played straight with the Marine Honor Guard giving a volley of gunfire for...someone.
  • It Has Been an Honor: One of the last things Major Baxter says to Hummel before they are both killed.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Darrow pointing out that they stopped being marines once they've taken hostages and became mercenaries when Baxter and Hummel try to appeal to his code as a Marine.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The Air Force is sent to bomb Alcatraz to neutralize the nerve gas but they're flying F/A-18 Hornets, which are exclusively Navy (and Marine) fighter/ground attack jets. The Air Force would've been flying F-15E Strike Eagles for this role. The cockpit mock-up was originally made for the F/A-18s in Independence Day and then repainted for The Rock. The rest of the F/A-18 footage is mostly Stock Footage that matches up with the set they used.
  • Karmic Death: As shown by some of the other entries, the films take on VX gas does horrible things to the human body. So it's perhaps fitting that Captain Frye, the guy who wanted to gas San Francisco for no other reason then "Just 'cause", gets a sphere of it shoved down his mouth by Goodspeed.
  • Karma Houdini: The US government, despite all the extremes Hummel went to in order to get them to hand over the money to the families of his fallen soldiers, he dies without accomplishing his mission and the government still never hands over a penny. Womack is also this specifically, he locked Mason away for over three decades without a trial under shady circumstances and most likely he will never answer for his actions.
  • Kick the Dog: As the Marines are checking the carnage of the shower shootout to see if there is anybody still alive, one of the Marines calls out a SEAL that is still barely alive. Frye pulls out his sidearm to give him a Coup de Grâce, and Hummel pulls him away in response before treating the dying man with more dignity.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Thermite Plasma, designed specifically to burn hot enough to render VX harmless.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Random marine: "I said shut the fu—" (Mason snaps his neck).
  • Knight Templar: Averted as Hummel, although a very sympathetic villain, had never intended to launch the missiles.
  • Large Ham: Nic Cage (unsurprisingly), Gregory Sporleder, Ed Harris, and Tony Todd.
  • Last Stand: We hear the radio chatter of Hummel's Marines fighting one over the opening credits. Help doesn't arrive.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Downplayed, but even as the FBI Director Womacak knew nothing of the Penatgon's Red Sea Trading Company slush fund. He's genuinely shocked when Hummel casually reveals it when he makes his demands.
  • Lost in Translation: Czech translation was among most hilarious.
    • "Aye aye, sir," was translated in to "Oko za oko" (eye for eye).
    • "Attorney General" was not only completely reversed in to "General Attorney", but translation was in sense "generál Attorney" as military commander with name Attorney.
    • Last gem "He´s trained british intelligence" was translated in to "Má vycvičenou britskou inteligenci", which mean "He have trained british intellect".
  • Majorly Awesome: Baxter, Hummel's Number Two.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The way John Mason gets in/out of the cistern room (under the furnaces with belching fire and turning gears). Mason: "I memorized the timing. I just hope it hasn't been changed..."
  • Mauve Shirt: Lieutenant Commander Anderson gets (relatively) a lot of characterization before getting offed with the rest of the SEALs at the film's halfway mark.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The etymology of Stanley Goodspeed's last name.
    • Francis Hummel's surname. Hummel is the German term for Bumblebee, who are well-known to be by far less aggressive and dangerous compared to other types of bees or wasps, despite being quite big.
    • A Mason is a builder who works with stone or rock.
    • Mason's daughter is named Jade, a kind of mineral or gemstone.
  • Messy Hair: Mason grew it while imprisoned. Thus Goodspeed suggests him to cut it, because the look would only work if he was "a 20 year old musician from Seattle. It's a Grunge thing."
  • Minecart Madness: Shortly after the SEAL team is gunned down with Mason and Goodspeed being the only two survivors. The duo tries to elude the pursuing Marines, only to jump into one of the minecarts down.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: According to the poster, Nicolas Cage is about to shoot you.
  • Morality Chain: Hummel goes ahead with his plan after his wife died.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong:
    Anderson: "We all have shipmates we remember. Some were shit on and pissed on by the Pentagon, but that doesn't give you the right to mutiny!"
  • Morton's Fork: This is part of why Mason changes his mind and comes back to aid Goodspeed in the Third Act (in addition to not wanting Goodspeed's child to grow up without a father like Jade did). Mason knows he and Goodspeed are outnumbered and outgunned by Hummel's surviving men. But Mason also knows that trying to swim the channel to the San Francisco mainland at his old age is pretty much out (and even if he does make it, he'll probably still die if Hummel launches the rockets). As Mason puts it, "...I'm fucked either way."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hummel actually says this before dying. The general didn't realize until it was too late that some of his men were Only in It for the Money and not the cause. Oops.
  • Navy SEALs: Several real SEALs were brought in to perform the underwater and infiltration scenes, and were given bit parts in the movie.
  • Neck Snap: Done by Mason to save Goodspeed, after Mason seemingly ditches him.
  • Nerves of Steel: Goodspeed displays this in his introduction when his team accidentally activates a bomb. While his team members are shouting and fumbling around, Goodspeed is quietly disarming the bomb. This is nothing compared to the numerous times he has to disable the VX rockets while under enemy fire.
  • Never Found the Body: Of course they didn't. Mason wasn't anywhere near the explosion that allegedly vaporized him. Goodspeed just reported that so that Mason could escape.
    Womack: Vaporized? Bodies can do that?
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The general was bluffing. His men aren't.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When General Hummel reveals that he was bluffing, we realize that all the men Mason and Goodspeed have been killing were Hummel's own men who would stand down if ordered, leaving the Axe-Crazy Frye and Darrow unopposed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mason was perfectly content to escape Alcatraz after the SEA Ls get wiped out and abandon Goodspeed. But after Hummel's men try to kill him with explosives, he reluctantly agrees to help Goodspeed in stopping them.
  • Non-Action Guy: Stanley Goodspeed's forte isn't in gunfights or hand-to-hand combat. Every time he tries it's almost embarrassing (though he gets better throughout the film).
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: The Recon Marines neutralize the naval arsenal without killing any guards, not wanting to kill fellow Marines. Of course they were still brutally effective without bullets. The reinforcements brought to Alcatraz don't have any qualms like that. Justified because the reinforcements are mercenaries brought in to fill up the necessary manpower to occupy and defend Alcatraz than real Marines and supporters of Hummel.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Hummel has no intention of actually going through with his threatened chemical attack if his demands aren't met. He finds out at the end that his associates feel differently. More specifically, they felt that there was no going back — when his bluff is called, he folds but they decide to stay all in.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't
    Goodspeed: You wanna play tough with me? Okay, FBI! Freeze sucker! I'll fire.
    Mason: No you won't.
    Goodspeed: Throw down.
    Mason: You're not the sort.
    Goodspeed: Let's find out.
    Mason: I could; you, no. Besides your safety's on.
    [Mason snatches the gun]
  • Nothing Personal
    Crisp: Killing Marines is one thing. Is this for real?
    Frye: Hey, it's just business.
  • Odd Couple / Unlikely Hero: Once the SEALs are killed, Womack decides not to send reinforcements for the two survivors, saying it would "invite another massacre". Agent Paxton protests, saying "a 70-year-old convict and a lab rat" stand no chance. Of course Mason and Goodspeed end up saving the day (while bickering at each other like any mismatched duo would).
  • One Dose Fits All: In the opening scene, the mercenaries use tranquillizer darts on the Marines guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious practically immediately, despite their different sizes.
  • One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Jade was the result of Mason's one night stand after a Led Zeppelin show in the early 1970s.
  • Only in It for the Money: Once Hummel's true colors are revealed, his underlings Frye and Darrow stage a coup and take over the operation because "The day we took hostages we became mercenaries. And mercenaries get paid! I want my fucking money!"
  • Operation Game of Doom: Disarming the nerve gas rockets - the capsules are VERY fragile, one brush can mean one shattering and dropping.
  • Orbital Shot:
    • When Stanley works to disarm the bomb in his first scene.
    • Stanley getting up from the wrecked Ferrari, after it looks like Mason got away.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Teased when discussing the stolen microfilm that figures in Mason's backstory. We're told explicitly that the cache includes information about the real assassin of JFK and the alien crash-landing at Roswell.
  • Outrun the Fireball: When the Marines fireflush the drains.
  • Overranked Soldier: Hummel introduces Crisp as a Gunnery Sergeant, a rank that usually requires a minimum of 13-15 years of service in the Marine Corps, and the average age of a "Gunny" is 35 (Bokeem Woodbine was 22 at the time the film was released). Even allowing for a Battlefield Promotion and Crisp's outstanding performance during Desert Storm, his actor is still ridiculously young to be holding such a rank.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Hummel, who was a highly decorated War Hero before going terrorist.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Before the attack, Hummel convinces a school tour group to get back on the ferryboats to San Francisco.
    • When the police catch up to Mason to bring him back in in front of his own daughter, Goodspeed appears and tells her that Mason is helping the FBI with a big case, leaving Mason surprised and the first hint of respect he shows towards Stanley.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: VX-2 is both a neurotoxin and powerful blister agent.
  • Precision F-Strike: Goodspeed, who rarely curses in the movie ("Cut me some friggin' slack!") throws one out as he force-feeds a deadly poison capsule to Captain Frye.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Goodspeed: [handling VX gas] You know how this shit works?
    Darrow: [pulls his combat knife] You know how this shit works?
    Goodspeed: Listen, I think we got started off on the wrong foot. Stan Goodspeed, FBI. Uh—let's talk music. Do you like the Elton John song, "Rocket Man"?
    Darrow: I don't like soft-ass shit.
    Goodspeed: Oh, you—oh, oh. Oh. Well, I only bring it up because,'s you. You're the Rocket Man.
    [Goodspeed fires a rocket at him]
    Goodspeed: [calling after him] How do ya like how THAT shit works?
    • Also, Goodspeed force-feeding Frye with a VX gas ball: "Eat that, you fuck!"
  • Posthumous Character: Hummel's wife Barbara. He's seen visiting her grave at the beginning of the film.
    Hummel: I miss you so much. [long pause] There's something I've gotta do, Barb. Something I couldn't do while you were here. I tried. You know I tried everything, and I still don't have their attention. Let's hope this elevates their thinking. But whatever happens... [he takes Congressional Medal of Honor out of his pocket] ...please don't think less of me. [he sets the Medal on top of the headstone, leans over and kisses it, and then walks away]
  • Prison Rape: Not a problem these days. Mason must be losing his sex appeal.
  • Psycho for Hire: Captains Frye and Darrow, while members of Hummel's task force, slip into this trope when they discover that Hummel is cancelling the ransom demand.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat: Mason to Hummel:
    Hummel: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Thomas Jefferson.
    Mason: "Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious," according to Oscar Wilde.
  • Race Against the Clock: Hummel gives the US government 40 hours to deliver the payments, otherwise he'll gas San Francisco.
    Hummel: You alert the media, I launch the gas. You refuse payment, I launch the gas. You've got forty hours, until noon, day after tomorrow, to arrange transfer of the money. I am aware of your countermeasure. You know and I know it doesn't stand a chance. Hummel from Alcatraz, out.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: In the opening scene, Gen. Hummel leaves his Medal of Honor at his wife's gravesite. In case you didn't caught it, his service record is read later on and it's said that he's a recipient of that, plus four Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Goodspeed is one of the few people in the entire cast who has never been involved with violence, and is clearly in shock when he takes his first life.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Paxton. He is nothing less than disgusted when he discovers what the FBI did to Mason, and though he can be a bit of a hardass, he makes sure Stanley is prepared for his mission, and when he's fed an obvious line of bullshit about Mason being dead, he just goes along with it because he knows FBI Director Womack has destroyed Mason's pardon.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Hummel and his former friend Baxter get killed by the ruthless Marines, once they decided to not fire the rockets on civilians..
  • Redemption Rejection: After Hummel revealed that he's been bluffing the whole time, Hummel offered his subordinates to escape via helicopter, while he himself takes all the blame, therefore the remaining Marines would escape prosecution. However, Frye and Darrow and the rest of the Marines sans Baxter are not willing to run off as cowards without accomplishing what they're hired to do and still want to prove to the U.S. Government that they mean business in contrast to Hummel's bluff.
    Darrow: Excuse me, General, but what about the fucking money?
    Hummel: There is no fucking money. The mission's over.
    Frye: Bullshit it's over!
    Baxter: You're talking to a General, soldier. Maintain discipline.
    Darrow: I'm not a soldier, Major. The day we took hostages, we became mercenaries. And mercenaries get paid. I WANT MY FUCKING MONEY!
  • Redshirt Army: The SEAL team. A real SEAL team no less. Dennis Chalker and Harry Humphries were two of half a dozen SEALs who advised and performed some of the scenes in the film, with Snake actually landing a part. They only really end up in this situation because they're outnumbered and pinned down in an inferior tactical situation...
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Stanley Goodspeed.
  • Rule of Cool/ Rule of Drama: Michael Bay explicitly acknowledged that Alcatraz's boilers should not be working when the joint's been shut down for years, according to IMDB.
    "Screw it, it's entertaining, don't you think?".
  • Sacrificial Lions: The SEAL team Mason and Goodspeed accompany to Alcatraz.
  • Scary Black Man: The knife-wielding Captain Darrow (played by Tony Todd which makes him more frightening).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: But Mason comes back.
    "Last time I swam these waters, I was your age. So I'm fucked either way."
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Trope Namer by way of a Something Awful edit.
  • Secret-Keeper: Stanley at the end. Notably one of the agents realizes that he's lying but since he agrees that what happened to Mason was unjust he goes along with it to help.
  • Semper Fi: Although being the bad guys, the Marines (and a few possible ex-Rangers, and some mercenaries) take out a Navy SEAL team. The Marines had modified their sensor equipment so that the SEAL team's attempts to disable it instead set it off, and the resulting confrontation (superior numbers in hard cover with an elevated position on one side and a smaller group caught in the open on the other) was so one-sided that Hummel flat-out considers their refusing to surrender an act of suicide.
  • Shot to the Heart: Stanley does the self-administered version to counter the effects of poison gas.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The VX in the missiles is depicted as green glass balls (whether the green is from the balls or the gas - which in real life is colorless - is unclear).
    • A small possible case of Truth in Television, some stockpiles tend to use an easily filtered out colouring agent in some dangerous gasses while in storage, in order to ensure they can tell if there is a potential leak.
  • Signature Style: Bay's usual Dutch Angles are in full effect, especially when the F/A-18s make their bombing run. His fondness for montage, slow motion and orbital shots is also obvious.
  • Skyward Scream: Goodspeed, when the pilots accidentally launches one of their missiles after Goodspeed launches the flares.
  • Smug Snake: Womack, all the way, even when he's protesting that it's a "different bureau" than in Hoover's day.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Mason and Goodspeed are frequently throwing angry zings at each other.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Frye and Darrow. Also one Marine laments having to capture Goodspeed alive.
    "'Cause I'd take pleasure in guttin' you, boy!."
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Mason, who can quote philosophy and drop F-bombs in the same breath.
    Mason: I don't quite see how [Hummel] cherish the memory of the dead by killing another million. And, uh, this is not combat. It's an act of lunacy, General, sir. Personally, I think you're a fucking idiot.
  • Start of Darkness: Hummel's men being refused evacuation after Desert Storm.
  • The Starscream: Captains Frye and Darrow who become the real Big Bad Duumvirate after they kill Hummel and his longtime friend Baxter.
  • Straw Civilian: White House Chief of Staff Hayden Sinclair, whose character exists for the sole purpose of establishing that he doesn't know what any of the military men in the room are talking about.
    Gen. Hummel: How old are you, Chief of Staff Sinclair?
    Sinclair: I'm 33.
    Gen. Hummel: Well, Mr. Sinclair, you've got no fucking idea what I'm talking about! By your ninth birthday I was running black ops in the jungles of Southeast Asia and my men were responsible for over two hundred enemy kills! Now put some rigging tape over Mr. Sinclair's mouth, he's wasting my time!
    Gen. Kramer: What is the potential casualty rate of a single rocket armed with VX poison gas, General Peterson?
    Gen. Peterson: Sixty or seventy...
    Sinclair: Well, that-that's not so bad...
    Gen. Peterson: ...thousand. Seventy thousand dead.
    Sinclair: ...Oh.
  • Stress Vomit: Stanley Goodspeed throws up when he has to be part of the rescue mission (to make sure the missiles are properly disarmed), and then told the full risks of going in.
    "My stomach's doing hula hoops around my ass."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Marines throw a couple bombs in the sewers to flush out any more intruders. One of the thermite plasma missiles is launched just before the abort order comes in.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Despite the billing on the poster, Goodspeed is the main hero of the movie, and Mason is the one assisting him.
  • Swapped Roles: For most of their adventure, Mason takes charge for the combat and firing snide remarks at Goodspeed's inexperience. However, when they have to defuse the VX rocket, Goodspeed is in his element and even snaps at Mason not to move the deadly gas around.
    Goodspeed: Mason, the second you stop respecting this stuff, it kills you.
  • Sympathetic Villain, Despicable Villain: Brigadier General Francis Hummel may very well be THE most sympathetic villain in film; his plot to extort millions from the government by threatening to release a deadly nerve gas is motivated by him being A Father to His Men, aggrieved that too many of his soldiers died for their country without their families being compensated. His plan involves using non-lethal force to steal the bioweapon, he ensures no children are among the civilian hostages he takes, and he ultimately admits that the entire operation is a bluff and refuses to go through with it. By contrast, his underling Capt. Darrow (and his partner Capt Frye) is cruel and cold-hearted, his only motivation being money, and will kill anyone who stands in his way of it, including other soldiers.
  • Take My Hand!: Inverted, Mason tricks Womack into shaking his hand and nearly sends him off a building when he does.
  • Television Geography:
    • One of the nerve gas missiles is fired towards "a football game", apparently heading for the Oakland Coliseum. When the camera shows the missile seconds away from its target, the stadium shown is actually Candlestick Park in San Francisco. (which makes the football game line right, but is still a flub on the radar that precedes it)
    • The car chase is all over the place geographically. For example, at one point, a police report says they are heading west on California Street... But in the very next shot, not only is it obvious that they are not on California Street, but they are also headed east on Filbert Street towards Coit Tower. If you've been to that part of San Francisco, it's especially obvious that they didn't drive away from the Fairmont Hotel; not only is the exterior completely different (it's actually the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles), but they drive away in the opposite direction of where they're supposedly headed. Those narrow alley sections early in the chase were filmed in downtown Los Angeles; if you stop and look carefully, they zoom past the historic King Edward Hotel via Werdin Place and pass Indian Alley. Mason hits the water truck at the 3700 block of Carolina Street in San Francisco, which is all the way in Potrero Hill, nearly halfway across the city to the southeast. The multi-car explosion and Goodspeed's window shortcut were in San Pedro on West 7th Street, near the La Salle Hotel. They somehow make it all the way back to San Francisco, going south at the corner of Hyde and Clay next to the 1st Chinese Southern Baptist Church. Then they awkwardly double back half a mile north and blow up a cable car at the corner of Jones & Pacific Avenues on Russian Hill. The only thing that does make sense is that Mason was able to drive from there to the Palace of Fine Arts in only a few minutes. At no point were they actually on California Street.
    • Stenson Drive doesn't exist in San Francisco. Jade's house is on West 37th Street in San Pedro.
    • The FBI mobile command center is shown to be situated at a warehouse on Pier 39. In reality, Pier 39 is a heavily developed shopping center and tourist trap in Fisherman's Wharf. Judging by the camera perspective and the layout of San Francisco's piers, those establishing shots were taken on Pier 23, looking southeast (as in, opposite direction from Alcatraz) towards the Bay Bridge. You can see Piers 19, 17, 15, and 9, with the distinctive Pier 7 walkway jutting out a little further than the others in the distance. Given that Pier 19 was converted from a warehouse to a parking garage, it's most likely the place where the command center scenes were really filmed. Also, Pier 17 was recently made the location of the Swiss consulate, and the Exploratorium was relocated to the renovated Pier 15 in 2013.
  • There Is No Try
    Goodspeed: I'll do my best.
    Mason: Your best? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
    Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.
    Mason: Really?
    Goodspeed: *Dramatic Gun Cock* Yeah.
  • Title Drop: Since the movie is named after a common nickname for Alcatraz, the term gets mentioned a few times.
  • Token Evil Teammate: While the majority of the named Marines are simply loyal followers of Hummel's example Frye and Darrow are working with Hummel for the first time and are Only in It for the Money. Frye also seems to love being a Blood Knight. They stage a mutiny against Hummel when he won't go through with the attack and convince a reluctant Crisp to follow their heed. It ends in a massacre.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Marine who gets killed by the VX gas during the depot heist. Note that most of the Marines are using hoists on the ceiling to move the rockets or are in pairs, stationed at either end of the rocket to keep it level. Instead, he tries to pick up a rocket by himself and at the middle, causing the rocket to fall out of his hands and jettison its contents all over the floor.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Goodspeed started as a mild mannered lab rat who never swore. He ends the film by force-feeding Frye VX gas, stabbing himself in the heart with the anti-VX agent, and manages to gather enough strength to avert the firebombing of Alcatraz.
  • Tragic Villain: Hummel's not even a real villain, he's just seeking reparations for the men betrayed by their government after trying every official channel.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: In the opening scene, the mercenaries use tranq darts on the Marines guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious immediately.
  • Trapped in Containment: First to showcase the nasty effects of VX on a poor rebel, and the second that introduces us to Goodspeed's skills.
  • Truth in Television: An air strike on American soil can only be authorized by POTUS.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This is the movie that established Michael Bay as a major power in Hollywood, and (though his second movie overall) his first large-scale military thriller. It also comes off as a deconstruction of many of the stereotypes in his future films
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Possibly the king of all examples, given that one person on there has just beaten a bunch of people senseless and escaped from prison. The other? "Okay, I don't want to know nothing. I never saw you throw that gentleman off the balcony. All I care about is: are you happy with your haircut?"
  • Undying Loyalty: Major Baxter is Hummel's most loyal soldier and the only person who didn't side against him during the climax.
  • Unperson: Mason. Even Goodspeed's FBI buddy has a hard time locating him in the Bureau of Prisons database. At the end of the movie Goodspeed claims Mason is dead, putting him beyond the reach of just about everybody.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: While dying from getting shot by Frye and Darrow, General Hummel reveals the location of the last rocket so Goodspeed can disable it and end their threat.
  • Villain Has a Point: The SEAL team who are sent after Hummel actually agree that the way the government treated his soldiers is inexcusable and Hummel has every right to be pissed off, even though the means he's using to force the government to change their minds is wrong.
    Anderson You men following the General: you're under oath as United States Marines, have you forgotten that? We all have shipmates we remember, some of them were shit on and pissed on by the Pentagon. But that doesn't give you the right to mutiny!
  • Villain Opening Scene: The film's first two scenes center around its main antagonist General Hummel; first as he pays his respects at his wife's grave and apologizes in advance for his crimes, then as he steals VX rockets from a depot.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Stanley runs to a sink and pukes after being told he was to be part of the mission.
    "My stomach's doing hula hoops around my ass."
  • War Hero: General Francis X Hummel is a high decorated Marine officer trying to get justice and recognition for men fall in blacks ops under his command.
    Sinclair: Three tours in Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm; three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and the Congressional Medal of - Jesus. This man is a hero.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: At the start of the film, Hummel takes off his wedding ring before going to visit his wife's grave, apologising in advance for the terrorist act he is about to carry out.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Mason wants to reconcile with Jade, telling her "You're the only evidence that I exist.".
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hummel, driven to extremes to get compensation for the families of soldiers killed on secret missions. By virtue of his rank and the gravity of the threat posed by his scheme to San Francisco (even if he didn't mean to carry it out, his men certainly did), Hummel is also arguably a Ripper. Even his opponents admit that if they've alienated a great man like Hummel, they've done something wrong.
  • Western Terrorists: All-American heroes, no less.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: The story starts out like this. On one side we have Navy SEALs and an FBI chemist who try to save the hostages and prevent a terrorist from killing thousands. Opposing them is a Noble Demon Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants his men to be honored as they deserve and their families supported and tries to avoid casualties as much as possible. Later turns into The Good, the Bad, and the Evil situation when Hummel's group gets divided and some of them want to launch the missiles for real, when Hummel was just bluffing.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Mason is in jail because he stole microfilm containing, among other secrets, the answer to this question. Which is strange, since he stole it in 1962, perhaps implying the FBI knew about the planned assassination a year in advance.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hummel's reason for taking Alcatraz hostage is to force the government to pay back families of soldiers killed under his command. Although he was bluffing all along and didn't mean to kill anyone.
  • The World's Expert (on Getting Killed): The SEAL team, who for all their training and expertise, are quickly dispatched during the rescue mission while Goodspeed — despite having zero combat training — survives.
    • Averted with Mason, who survives because of his combat abilities and knowledge of Alcatraz, although his status as The Hero also helps.
  • Worst Aid: Done twice. While the movie gets it half-right that atropine is a counter-agent to many nerve agents, the delivery method is wholly incorrect. In a hospital setting, a cardiac injection is the most effective means of saving an exposed patient, getting the heart back in proper shape quickly. In the field, however, autoinjectors (basically military Epi-Pens) are used, which are jammed into the thigh (when treating yourself) or the buttocks (when treating another) - you do not stab yourself in the heart with a cardiac needle. The odds that you could actually hit your heart, not kill yourself doing it, and administer a medication while suffering the onset effects of a nerve agent are so close to zero as to not matter.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Before taking the tourists and tour guide hostage, Hummel asks a group of elementary students to inform their class to evacuate Alcatraz.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Mason and Goodspeed only call each other "John" and "Stanley" once in the film: at the end, when Goodspeed lies to the FBI to allow Mason to escape, giving him a chance to live freely.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: Hummel tells Anderson and his SEAL team that he should surrender using this trope.
    "Your unit is covered from an elevated position, Commander. I'm not gonna ask you again. Don't do anything stupid. No-one has to die here."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mason refused to give back the microfilm because he knew the government would "suicide" him.
  • You Just Told Me: While meeting Goodspeed, Mason says the Latin phrase "Timeo danaos et dona ferentis" ("I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."). When Goodspeed translates it, Mason immediately figures out that Goodspeed isn't an ordinary FBI agent.


Video Example(s):


Mason Vaporized

Agent Goodspeed lets Mason go free and tells his FBI bosses he was vaporized and blown out to sea.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathFakedForYou

Media sources: