His character, the Alcatraz escapee John Patrick Mason, was larger-than-life, magnetic, and classically masculine—just like Connery himself.
Sean Connery’s legacy will forever be defined by his seven turns as Ian Fleming’s dashing British spy, James Bond. Yet the illustrious Scotsman, who passed away this morning at the age of 90, was far more than simply 007, as evidenced by a renowned filmography that includes gems as varied and stellar as Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987)—for which he won his sole Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor—Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and The Hunt for Red October (1990). Yet perhaps none of his post-Bond performances are as electrifyingly macho, humorous and purely Connery-esque as his turn in a 1995 action extravaganza that’s as outsized and entertaining as his iconic persona.
Yes, I’m referring to The Rock.
Before Michael Bay became wholly invested in orgiastic celebrations of CGI spectacle, lewd titillation, and the military industrial complex, he crafted one of the ‘90s preeminent blockbusters with The Rock, the story of a rogue marine Brigadier General named Frank Hummel (Ed Harris) who decides to get payback against the U.S. government by taking control of Alcatraz and threatening to launch chemical weapons-enabled rockets at San Francisco if his demands aren’t met. To counter this insane insurrectionist threat, which is complicated by the fact that the island prison is famous for being a fortress no one can break out of (or into), the American powers-that-be take a preposterous course of action, pairing goofy chemist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) with the only individual to have ever successfully escaped Alcatraz: former SAS Captain John Patrick Mason (Connery), who as a reward for his unmatched feat has been locked away in secret for two decades.