If obviously Sean Connery could not appear explicitly as James Bond in “Rock”, Michael Bay still fed his film with winks to make a nice reference to it. With a few lines of dialogue slipped in here and there and a last magic shot on the unforgettable interpreter of 007, the director succeeds in a subtle and ultimately moving tribute.
Rock : when Michael Bay recruits Sean Connery
It will have escaped no one but John Patrick Mason, character interpreted by the immense Sean Connery in the film Rock by Michael Bay, has a thousand similarities with the great role in the career of the Scottish actor who died on October 31, 2020: james bond. On this sad occasion, the filmmaker had also paid a beautiful tribute to the actor. But his 1996 film was already one, with several references to Agent 007.
Although he appears almost late in the film, around the 25th minute, John Patrick Mason is first introduced by a discussion between FBI Director Womack (John Spencer) and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Philip Baker Hall). Then again between Womack and FBI special agent Paxton (William Forsythe), where his feats of arms are detailed. A way to forcefully prepare for its entry and give it legendary status.
Former SAS agent (ex-English intelligence services) – first clue -, he has been detained for decades for having stolen and concealed precious microfilms containing all or almost all the secrets of the American government. The only man to have escaped from Alcatraz, the FBI will need him to dislodge General Hummel and his men from Alcatraz. Pulled out of his cell, his beard badly trimmed and his hair very long, he will quickly regain his splendor and a beautiful costume, obviously Bond way.
Multiple references to James Bond
Using Sean Connery in an action film and in the shoes of a former English secret agent is already, in itself, an inevitable and explicit reference to 007. Sean Connery has indeed held the role of James Bond officially six times. Of James Bond vs. Dr. No in 1962 to Diamonds are forever in 1971, and a final and seventh time in the unofficial never ever again in 1983. Almost unanimously, he is the character’s best performer. And as soon as he meets FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), with whom he will team up in Rock, he thus takes up a replica that he gave in Diamonds are forever : “But of course you are” (at 0’14 in the two excerpts below).
Much later, when they have just escaped from the Alcatraz morgue, we find them in the pipes. Stanley Goodspeed asks John Patrick Mason how he manages to kill so easily. He then replies, with an all-British phlegm :
I was trained by the best. The British Secret Service. But on reflection I would have preferred to be a poet. Or farmer.
An ultimate reference in the staging of the final sequence
Characterizing the character in this way and providing him with lines of dialogue that wink at James Bond is one thing, but offering a reference in the staging and framing of a shot is another. And that’s where Michael Bay is very strong. Indeed, at the end of the film, when they have fulfilled their mission and John Patrick Mason has just (again) saved Stanley Goodspeed, the former James Bond moves away to disappear once and for all.
It then appears in a rectangular frame, a plane with a different geometry but ultimately similar in its intention to the famous “Gunbarrel shot”, signature of the opening sequences of the films 007.
A last shot, from which he disappears in the seconds that follow, leaving Stanley Goodspeed alone to continue the adventure, as Sean Connery would definitively leave his role asaction hero to make room for others. Others like Nicolas Cage for example, who will continue the following year with The wings of hell and Flip/Face. A plan to honor to actor and movie legend Sean Connery. Class.
For fans of Rock, we can only highly recommend this thread below by Robert Hospyan, screenwriter and critic, who has done a great job of analyzing the film.