Making the Grades
The end of the world begins on the offshore oil rig of Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), a tough oilman who has patented a sophisticated drilling method. He works with a crew of rowdy roughnecks, most with police records and dysfunctional personalities.
Just when you are about to check and see if you have the right tape in the VCR (what have these guys got to do with the end of the world?), Stamper is collected by mysterious agents and shipped off to NASA. There he is told of a boulder the size of Texas that will hit the earth in twenty days and the only way to stop it is to send a crew to drill into the rock, plant a nuclear warhead, and blow it to bits. Reluctantly, he and his crew of misfits agree to their mission and become the world's only hope.
As the audience, our job is to learn to like these guys -- a tough task at best. Knowing the end may be near and feeling they have nothing to lose, Stamper's crew choose to live on the wild side on a day off during their short course of astronaut training. The idea was to say goodbye to their families, but only one sad dad makes it home. Most of the others choose to visit a strip bar where they spend money they've begged from a loan shark. Meanwhile A.J. (Ben Affleck), the ringleader of the bunch, spends his last few hours with Stamper's daughter Grace (Liv Tyler). In this provocative scene A.J. and Grace (shown in her bra) share a sexually charged moment.
With the millennium approaching, Hollywood is bursting with too-long disaster epics. Between this film, Godzilla, and Deep Impact, I've seen the Chrysler Building demolished three times and the world's nuclear arsenal used in ways that would have Cold War politicians beaming with pride. These films all resemble each other, with millions killed and very little blood. However Armageddon's language and sexual exploits definitely make it the winner of the Most Likely To Concern Parents award.