Fan Theory Friday: Is Sean Connery Really James Bond in ‘The Rock?’

Two theories for the price of one.

I don’t know about you, but I think one of the great tragedies of cinema is that Sean Connery only made six films as James Bond (seven if you count the non-canon Never Say Never Again). It’s a tragedy because Connery is James Bond, he single-handedly created the three-dimensional version of the character, in turn pretty much creating the cinematic spy archetype, and if we’re honest every actor who followed in his footsteps – with the exception of Daniel Craig, I think – was really just doing a Sean Connery impression. You might think that’s harsh, but I bet on some level you think it’s true, too. However, on the list of men who portrayed Bond most often, Connery comes in second to Roger Moore (again, unless you count Never Say Never Again, in which case they’re tied).

In a perfect world, Connery would have played Bond through Moore’s tenure, which would have allowed the character to age through such turbulent international times, which I think given Connery’s depth as an actor would have made for a far more interesting character than the one-note lethal charmer we got in the 1980s and 90s. Never Say Never Again gives us a glimpse of this, and as a result it’s one of the best Bond pics of its era, official or not.

But what if I told you that like Never Say Never Again, there was another non-canon James Bond film starring Sean Connery? Because depending on your willingness to believe the following fan theory, The Rock could be that film.

You know The Rock, it’s the Michael Bay action flick about angry marines who take over Alcatraz from where they plan to launch a biological attack on San Francisco. Nic Cage stars alongside Connery, who plays Captain John Patrick Mason, a former British Secret Service agent imprisoned in America the last 30 years for stealing the files of then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Sounds like some James-Bond shit to me.

So right off the bat, Mason is at least Bond-adjacent, having been in the same branch of government at the same time as Bond.

Furthermore, when they look into his past, it’s mentioned that there’s zero record of Mason on our side of the pond or Britain’s. John Patrick Mason, quite simply, doesn’t exist. Is this because his real name is James Bond? Or – bringing in a second popular Bond theory – is it because his name really is Mason but it’s been forever expunged from all international records because he assumed the code name “James Bond,” the same given to every agent to achieve 007 level, the way each new MI-6 director is called “M?”

If you look at Mason’s skill level, his attitude, the quip-tacular way he speaks and his cavalier approach to mortal peril – not to mention, you know, his face – then I think there shouldn’t be any doubt that The Rock is a James Bond film. But maybe you need just a touch more convincing. Okay.

Connery himself around the release of The Rock repeatedly said (albeit in a perceived jokingly manner) that one of the reasons he made the film was to get to play James Bond one more time. Was he using “James Bond” as a catch-all term for movie spy like so many people do, or was he telling us the straight-up truth? You know what I think. Let me know how you’re leaning in the comments below or on Twitter. And either way, go watch The Rock again, it’s awesome.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist