Sean Connery, the first actor to play 007 and make James Bond popular around the world, passed away peacefully at the age of 90. Every 007 fan has seen each and every performance of Sean Connery’s as the secret agent with a License to Kill, but there was more to ‘Sean’ than meets the eye. He may have rocketed to fame playing Ian Fleming’s creation but there were many other performances of his that cemented his place as the most popular action star in the world. From “The Untouchables” (1987), to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), from “The Rock” (1996) to “Entrapment” (1999), Sean Connery kept himself relevant with roles that justified the age and complimented his sex appeal. To his fans and followers, he was much bigger than ‘Bond, James Bond’ and his body of work is proof of that.
The Untouchables (1987)
He may have become a household name with James Bond films, but he earned his first Oscar nomination and his only Academy Award win for this Brian De Palma flick. Sharing the screen with fellow Academy Award winners Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro, Sean Connery gave the performance of his life as Jimmy Malone, an honest Irish-American cop who helped his team of ‘Untouchables’ take down notorious gangster Al Capone (De Niro). The scene where Jimmy Malone meets his tragic end is not just the most emotional one of Connery’s lengthy career but also the turning point of the film. He deserved every bit of the Oscar he received for his mighty performance!
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989)
Creator George Lucas wrote the character of Indiana Jones’ father with Sir Laurence Olivier in mind; director Steven Spielberg had selected Sean Connery long before that for the same role, because in his mind, only ‘James Bond’ could outweigh ‘Junior’. That’s why Sean Connery was cast as Harrison Ford’s father in the third Indiana Jones film, and despite being just 12 years older to the leading man, Sean Connery accepted the challenge, after repeatedly refusing the offer. The onscreen chemistry of both Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) and Henry Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) is what went on to become the highlight of the movie. It was ‘upsetting’ to see Sean Connery scared on screen but he made it so believable and relatable that people wanted him to return in the same role again.
With this Rob Cohen flick, Sean Connery proved that his presence in the form of voice was enough to guarantee box office success. He didn’t appear on screen in this medieval adventure but as the voice of Draco, the last living dragon in the world, who teams up with a dragon slayer (Dennis Quaid) to both stay alive and keep him in business. But when things go from bad to worse in the kingdom, they decide to help the rebellion and overthrow the tyrannical King (David Thewlis), without knowing about the ‘connection’ between the evil ruler and Draco. Sean Connery’s vocals were the only thing in the world that could have made the dragon believable, and they did; after all, Sean Connery was a ‘dragon of sorts’ among mortals.
The Rock (1996)
After tourists at the abandoned Alcatraz Island are taken hostage by a rogue Brigadier General (Ed Harris), the FBI is forced to pardon John Mason (Sean Connery), the only man to escape ‘The Rock’. Teaming up with an FBI chemist (Nicholas Cage) and a team of Navy SEALS, they break into Alcatraz to save the hostages and stop the rogue army officers from unleashing the nerve-gas-filled-rockets they threaten to launch unless paid $100 million as ransom. Director Michael Bay used the buddy formula of old-man-partnering-young-man to perfection as Sean Connery’s Mason matches Nicholas Cage’s youthful energy in every frame. He has more presence in the film than any other character and that’s because the film is all about Sean Connery. He not only breathes life into the character with his powerful presence, but he also manages to outwit everyone including the very people who had captured him thirty years ago. How he and his young partner manage to save ‘The Rock’ is something that has to be watched, to be believed!
She is Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones), ‘the most beautiful crook’ in the words of Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Sean Connery) but in reality, she is an insurance investigator posing as a crook so that she can catch him – the undefeatable art thief – in the act. Together, they are made for each other for he has the brains, she has the beauty and their sexual tension is enough to set the screen on fire. But does she manage to outclass him, or does he have an ace up his sleeve that no one knows about, Entrapment was one of the most technologically advanced films Connery did. He was touching 70 and partnered with an actress who was forty years younger but the way he carried it off was only worthy of a ‘Bond’. The film was Connery’s last successful action film and although he was part of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen four years later, it would be better to forget the box office disaster and remember him matching Zeta-Jones every step of the way.