When it comes to debating Michael Bay’s filmography, even those who aren’t fans are usually ready to give him a pass on 1996’s Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery action thriller “The Rock”.
That may change with a new report in THR today about the Chilcot Inquiry, the investigation into Britain’s role in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It turns out that members of MI6 actually cited “The Rock” as part of their justification to invade Iraq.
In the film, Ed Harris plays a rogue Marine who seizes a stockpile of rockets armed with the nerve gas VX, takes over Alcatraz prison and threatens to launch his arsenal against San Francisco. The nerve gas is housed in green liquid form within long strings of spherical necklace-style beads which are an obvious creative liberty by Bay, a cinematic conceit to ratchet up the tension as these deadly beads roll across floors.
An MI6 report from 2002 cites a source which claims Iraq’s biological and chemical weapons capabilities included nerve agents VX, sarin and soman which had been produced and were being stored in containers including “linked hollow glass spheres.”
This raised questions within MI6 which obviously drew comparisons to the film. Despite doubts, the same source was again cited in a report claiming Iraq was accelerating its chemical and biological weapons programs and had built more facilities. The report played a significant role in the arguments put forth for war by Prime Minister Tony Blair at the time.
A year later, MI6’s doubts had been confirmed and the source had been revealed to not only be lying, but was “a fabricator who had lied from the outset.” By then though it was too late, and the war was in full swing. The Chilcot report also gives a damning verdict asserting that Blair had deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Hussein.
As for Michael Bay, well you can accuse him of crimes against cinema certainly but crimes against humanity? Not so much.