Sean Connery’s legacy will forever be defined by his seven rounds as Ian Fleming’s dashing British spy, James Bond. Yet the illustrious Scotsman, who died this morning at the age of 90, was more than just 007, as evidenced by a renowned filmography that includes gems as varied and stellar as that of Alfred Hitchcock. Marnie (1964), by John Huston The man who wanted to be king (1975), by Brian De Palma The Incorruptibles (1987) – for which he won his only Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor – by Steven Spielberg Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Red October Hunting (1990). Yet perhaps none of his post-Bond performances are as electrifyingly macho, humorous, and purely Connery-esque as his turn into a 1995 action extravaganza as out-of-the-way and entertaining as his iconic character.
Yes i’m talking about The rock.
Before Michael Bay fully invested himself in the orgiastic celebrations of the CGI spectacle, obscene titillation and the military-industrial complex, he crafted one of the most significant blockbusters of the 90s with The rock, the story of a rogue Marine Brigadier General named Frank Hummel (Ed Harris) who decides to take revenge on the US government by taking control of Alcatraz and threatening to launch chemical weapons rockets at San Francisco if his demands are not met. To counter this senseless insurgency threat, which is complicated by the fact that the island’s prison is famously a fortress that no one can get out of (or into), the incumbent US powers are adopting an absurd plan of action. , awkward pairing chemist Dr Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) with the only person who ever managed to escape Alcatraz: former SAS captain John Patrick Mason (Connery), who as a reward for his unparalleled feat was locked away in secret for two decades.
Suffice it to say it’s nonsense only in the movies. But it is very well absurd, because it is based on a scandalous plot, a ridiculous heroic mission and a protagonist whose stature is downright mythical. To that end, it’s the perfect late-career role for Connery, who by this point had long established himself as the epitome of manly cool. Bay presents him in heavy shadows and flowing lights, his stringy hair, tousled beard, and shining eyes with cunning ferocity, and Connery immediately gives Mason a feeling of a caged lion – the king of the jungle, no. ‘waiting for a chance to strike, then roam the earth again as its supreme predator. And when he shortly after dons a dashing designer suit and has his hair cut on the balcony of a luxurious hotel suite, the twinkle in his eyes makes it clear that he understands – as we do – that he falls back into the style of the 007 brand which first made him a superstar.
So his subsequent assault on his masters and his daring escape from said balcony feels almost predetermined, and like an inner joke to moviegoers around the world. What, you expected THE Sean Connery to be the lackey of some clown bureaucrats? One of the main pleasures of The rock It’s how the film and Connery consistently get their hands on playing in – and out of – the star’s reputation as the epitome of rugged, arrogant, and suave masculinity. Nowhere is this more clearly felt than in Mason’s dynamic with Goodspeed, who is portrayed by Cage (in the role that turned him into a badass movie fixture) as a stuffy geek who’s out of his mind. element in this testosterone-soaked saga, yet also a ladies’ man with more courage and wit than he initially appears.
Connery not only appreciates the opportunity to be the ultimate in cool in The rock, but to do so in a story that requires him to rebuke and emasculate Cage’s sidekick as well as train him as his protégé. He is both the lone warrior and the mentor, reaffirming his unparalleled machismo and passing it on to the next generation as well. In both of these ways, Connery is in his element, whether it’s berating his co-star’s nerd for crying doing his best (“Your best? Losers always whine their best. Winners come in. home and fuck the prom queen “), confidently confronting Harris’ disenchanted potential terrorist, or showing a hard-earned appreciation for Goodspeed’s latest act of kindness. And the fact that the film also gives its Mason a measure of touching regret and fury for his lost life – which he tries to wrestle with in an attempt to reunite with the girl he hasn’t seen in years. years – only allows Connery to flex his various muscles and make Mason more than just a one-dimensional cartoon.
But above all, The rock lets Connery be – thrilling, hilarious, gloriously – The Man. At no point during Bay’s spectacular show does the actor seem anything less than complete control over himself, his circumstances, and the life and death task at hand. Sporting the distinguished gray beard of his later years, he is more handsome than ever at the age of 65, and equally rugged, proving himself up to the challenge of swimming treacherous depths, navigating treacherous passages and to face adversaries for decades. . It’s a performance that screams “He’s still got it”, though that hardly comes as a surprise, as from entry to exit it radiates the self-control of a grizzled veteran eager to teach some new lessons. to some young puppies.
The rock reconfirmed that no amount of charismatic leading men, or gratuitous aesthetic glare, could eclipse Connery’s larger-than-life magnetism. In that regard, Bay’s sophomore effort behind the camera comes across as a tribute to his star, fully aware that he’s much beefier, sexier, and more awesome than anything else completing him on screen. And acknowledging that, Connery seizes the moment, once again demonstrating the strength of personality that has made him a great Hollywood of all time.
At the end of The rock, Mason de Connery does well by Goodspeed – in a way that underlines its almost magical quality – then vanishes into thin air. It’s an apt fate for a borderline mythological character played by a legend who inhabits and pokes fun at his own idealized personality as well. It might not be his finest job, but it is arguably his most fun.
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