Making a good action scene isn't really all that hard. You just need some action to it, and voila. You have a good action scene. Then you just slap some cliched score ontop and edit it nicely. But let's take a look at what action scenes are about; They're about people being involved in action. Be it a car chase, a shootout or even a fistfight, it always involves primary or secondary characters duking it out with eachother. Usually it's the bad guys vs the good guys. Now what is the very definition of a good action scene? Its excitement. If an action scene fails to excite you, it has failed. Contrary to what you may or may not believe, action scenes do not make your palms sweaty just because they're good action scenes. If a movie was nothing but a collage of various back-to-back action sequences, you would not be excited. Why? Because of the people involved in those action scenes. No matter how well an action scene may be directed, you will not give a damn about what happens to the people involved unless you actually care about them. And what makes you care about them? Every other scene in the film. If all goes well with the rest of the movie and the good and bad guys are well written, during those shootouts you will be rooting for the good guys to overcome evil. The Rock is a movie that tries very, very hard to make you care for it's characters, but ultimately fails in it.
The Rock revolves around Stanley Goodspeed, portrayed by Nicholas Cage. He's a very good bomb defusing-guy(all technical terminology can be removed, because that is what he essentially is), and so he is needed to defuse missiles who the evil General Hummel (Harris) has stolen. Hummel has set a base in Alcatraz, so naturally the only way to get to him is to get Sean Connery (named John Mason in the movie, but his role is Sean Connery with grungier hair), the only person ever to escape Alcatraz, to come with Goodspeed and a SEAL-team to the prison and lead them around it. The plot is pretty much an excuse for some well-made action, but as I said, it really, REALLY wants to be something else. Goodspeed is prettymuch a pretty boy, who works with a scout-like set of ethics, and his teaming with the loose cannon Mason is almost as hilarious as the combination of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour-movies. Meaning that it really isn't a very good one. Goodspeed is probably the only character who gets some even remotely senseful (or working, for that matter) charecterisation throughout the entire film. For Mason, there's a 20-minute useless segment where he escapes FBI-containment to meet his daughter. Naturally, to get to her, he has to drive 100mph through San Fransisco with Goodspeed hot in his trail. After this scene, his daughter is barely ever mentioned, let alone this entire incident. So we had to watch a 20-minute, rather dull chase, for nothing? Thanks, Michael Bay! Naturally, the bad guy also gets some character development, because he's a former military guy, so he has a dark and political purpose to his actions. Does it change him? No. In fact, nothing that happens in this movie changes any of the characters, aside from causing a permanent case of death to most of them. Stanley Goodspeed is still Stanley Goodspeed in the end of the movie, even though he does learn how to shoot people and be an action-guy in general, and Sean Connery is still Sean Connery in the end. It leaves you feeling somewhat empty when the character development is this nonsenical.
Now, from a technical standpoint, The Rock is a pretty solid movie. Despite the questionable material they're given, the actors do make the most out of it, and as a huge Michael Biehn-fan, it's fun to see him do an action role for the first time in a while. As I said previously, Sean Connery plays Sean Connery, and does it as well as he's done it for 20 years before this movie. Ed Harris is a bad guy for the millionth time, Nicholas Cage is a good one for the gazillionth time, and they do the same things they always do in their good guy/bad guy-roles. Which is nothing I would complain about, since it works. The score is something that elevates all the action scenes in The Rock. While not singularily making them good, it does come close to doing so. Bay does an alright job directing, making good action scenes but dull dialogue scenes. And with dialogue as ridicilous as some of the material in this movie, I honestly can't blame him. His way of making action scenes can be somewhat tiresome with the quick cuts and all, and especially for a movie that runs well over two hours, it makes for very good material to give epileptics some seizures.
The Rock does leave you wondering about several plot holes, which I won't bother listing here, but you need to ask yourself, do you really care at all about the plot or do you just want to watch people get shot and shout really loud? If you do, put an extra 3 points to my rating to get what you're likely to think.