No, not a clone of Dwayne ‘The Rock’, Johnson. A sequel. To the 1996 action-adventure-thriller.
Yes. It almost happened! THE ROCK II.
Why? Same reason for most sequels. Part 1 was a massive success. There were big stars possibly attached. Further adventures had been teased, despite self contained premise of the first movie. There were indeed, places to go. And it’s a ruddy, rotten shame that never happened. As I will explain, here:
- A better send-off for Connery. Sean retired after 2003’s LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, having also starred in ENTRAPMENT (1999) and kinda baddie-phoned it in for THE AVENGERS (’98). By his own admission, to some extent, everything was a bit shit after THE ROCK? FINDING FORRESTER WAS JUST OK. But it was as John-Patrick Mason, SAS veteran escapologist, that Connery had found his best role since 1987’s Oscar winning turn for THE UNTOUCHABLES. Bond fans even speculate that the role is, basically, Sean playing 007, once again. I concur! Seriously. He is both brutal and gentlemanly; funny yet ruthless and charming in THE ROCK: everything he had been in peak era Bond (1962-’65?); aged appropriately, 30 years on but not showing any lazy complacency (seriously; Connery is in better shape for THE ROCK than he was for Diamonds Are Forever or Never Say Never Again). Ergo, yes. Might have been nice to get an encore/reprise and THEN retire, on a high? Maybe around 2004 ish?
- A cage for NICOLAS CAGE! Had he made a ROCK sequel? Cage might not have gone on a random spending spree, BUYING CASTLES! So no bankruptcy? Better yet? I suspect Cage’s commercial credentials and thereby, creative independence would have been preserved. NATIONAL TREASURE = poor man’s ROCK sequel, imho. Heck, they even used Ed Harris (Rock’s baddie) in National Treasure 2.
- The world building had been done. As in: we know that Connery’s Mason character was an ex SAS guy, with access to top secret files. Cage and his lovely wife go and get those files at end of part 1. Ergo? They are on the run in part 2? But that is ONLY THE BEGINNING. As in. ONE possible pitch for either opening teaser or full movie. Other ideas did float around. Including:
- A team of rogue SAS men team up to kidnap the UK’S Prime Minister. Cue Cage and Connery, to the rescue, in London?
- Makes sense. Cage on run, in UK, at the start? Hence in same area as the action when it kicks off. The rogue SAS mirrors the mercenary Marine motif of part 1. London landmarks expand the Alcatraz setting pitch idea yet honour the general feel (Big Ben? Houses of Parliament etc: historical landmarks). And made political, satirical sense. Seriously.
- Notice that THE ROCK used the phrase ‘war on terror, a whole five years pre 9/11. And its own theory of chemical weapon delivered by tiny washing machine capsule -like mechanism? Used, it seems, IN the doctored or ‘sexed up’ intel reports that led to the justification, for war in Iraq, 20 years back. You could not make it up. Oh wait, you could. 😉
So: we missed a chance for another 007 style turn by Sir Sean. Career salvation for NICOLAS CAGE. YEAH! And a satirical, pertinent and fun take on the post 9/11-war on terror-Iraq invasion axes, thereby giving an antidote to the whole ‘we must all now be dark, gritty and sombre’ route that Jason Bourne and his copiers took. Grit. Action. Relevance. Urgency. Style. Good writing and acting. And a Hans Zimmer score, naturally / ‘but of course’. Hence? THE ROCK 2: A missed opp! And no, Nicolas: DO NOT DO A SOFT REBOOT with you in the Connery mentor role. Although, come to think of it? MAYBE! YEAH 😉