Movies ... The Rock

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The Rock, this week's entry in the summer movie testostero-thon, looks like an instant sequel to Mission Impossible. Look again. Directed by Michael Bay (Bad Boys) and written by David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook and Mark Rosner, the movie is less a rip-off than a corrective. "This is the team-spirit action movie Mission Impossible should have been," says TIME's Richard Corliss. A tortured general (Ed Harris) and some renegade Marines seize Alacatraz, take 81 tourists hostage and threaten to launch gas rockets across the bay to vaporize San Francisco. An FBI biochemist (Nicolas Cage) is dispatched to defuse the weapons; a wily hermit (Sean Connery), the only prisoner to escape Alcatraz and live, is to help Cage navigate the Rock1s maze of passageways. It all works very smartly. The Simpson-Bruckheimer production duo run clever variations on their macho obsessions (missiles, car chases, gay-baiting, the Crimson Tide mutiny plot). This ain1t art, exactly. But if you1re at the plex and need to choose between The Rock and a Cruise place, it1s no choice at all.