‘The Rock’ Helped British Intelligence Community Justify Iraq War
It’s a matter of public record that anyone who came of age during the ’90s has a soft spot for The Rock. Not only did the film convince an entire generation that Nicolas Cage was a viable action star — thereby ensuring the existence of movies like Con Air, Face / Off, and yes, even Snake Eyes — but it also cemented director Michael Bay’s reputation as one of the great action filmmakers of his generation, Transformers be damned.
It turns out, though, that The Rock may play a more important role in world history than our collective summer movie appreciation. This week, the British government released a report summarizing their country’s involvement in the Iraq war. Among other pieces of declassified information came this doozy: one informant had reported that anthrax was being manufactured in massive quantities in the country. The only problem? The anthrax was described as being housed in small class containers, despite the fact that this was a complete fabrication very likely based on Michael Bay’s popular film.
And if you’re thinking that maybe you underestimated the accuracy of The Rock — that perhaps the movie was more accurate in its depiction of weapons grade nerve gas than you originally assumed — you’re wrong. The Guardian reached out to David Weisberg, one of the film’s original screenwriters, and asked for his thoughts on the government report. He did not exactly mince words.
What was so amazing was anybody in the poison gas community would immediately know that this was total bulls --- — such obvious bulls --- … In real life it’s all invisible and boring, as per usual. So we invented this string-of-pearls approach to have these little globes with green gases in them, to give visual interest and to create jeopardy.
So there you have it. One of the most convincing pieces of evidence that led two countries to war was based on a screenwriter’s aesthetic choice to make sure audiences were appropriately tense during action sequences in his movie. No word yet on whether the government also looked into the feasibility of Michael Bay’s weaponized space trucks program as well.