Is ‘The Rock’ a James Bond Film? Here's What a Popular Fan Theory Suggests

“I was special services. Military intelligence. They taught me to be a killer. In retrospect, I’d sooner have been a poet."

Brandon Charles - Author
By

Mar. 11 2024, Published 6:00 p.m. ET

Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in 'The Rock'
Source: Getty Images

You do not need to read a 3,000-plus word fan essay about a film to find out if a film that’s not a James Bond film is a James Bond film. You do not need to spend about 20 minutes watching fan videos to find out if a film that’s not a James Bond film is a James Bond film.

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But it’s really fun to spend time reading fan theory essays and watching fan theory videos. So, is The Rock a James Bond film or do we all just like seeing Sean Connery make clever quips in stressful situations?

Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in 'The Rock'
Source: Getty Images
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'The Rock' is not a James Bond film but it absolutely makes sense why some devoted Bond fans think it is.

The late Sean Connery’s most important role is James Bond. The best and most iconic actor to play the role of 007 did it six times in the official James Bond canon (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever), once outside of canon (Never Say Never Again) and, according to at least a few folks, did so in The Rock.

The theory for The Rock being a James Bond film is quite simple. The timelines match up if you consider the six canon Bond films starring Sean and John Mason (the name of Sean Connery’s character in The Rock) is not James Bond, but a code name. That’s about it.

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If you want to spend some time going down The Rock/James Bond rabbit hole, consult the Reddit page. Or watch the 17-minute, 55-second video explaining the theory.

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If ‘The Rock’ isn’t a Bond film why does it sort of sound and feel like a Bond film?

James Bond was a relatively hot property when The Rock was released in 1996. The popularity of 1995’s GoldenEye is one of the reasons Sean Connery considered starring in a film like The Rock. A thriller like this was appealing to Sean, but it needed to be more Bond-like for the actor to sign on.

In the Oct. 2, 2020 post on Film Stories, writer Simon Brew documents how the actor brought writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais in to essentially punch up The Rock's script, which was originally written by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook. This is very important for the James Bond-ification of the Rock script. Dick and Ian had already worked with Sean on Never Say Never Again. Just like The Rock, the duo was brought in by the actor to punch up the script.

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Simon does a fine job exploring how The Rock ended up more Bond-like when he wrote why Dick and Ian were brought in: “They needed to go in and add more humor, and to make the character of John Mason more British. If anything, more Bond. The lack of Britishness had been one of Connery’s key objections to the original screenplay, and it needed addressing. They got to work, and they concentrated on fleshing the character of Mason out."

Simon goes on to explain why the similarities seem especially Bond-like: "One example contribution is a conversation at the end of the film’s second act, where Connery’s Mason explains 'I was special services. Military intelligence. They taught me to be a killer. In retrospect, I’d sooner have been a poet or a farmer. Which I consider infinitely more honorable professions.'"

No, The Rock is not a James Bond film. It just happens to be a thriller starring the best guy to ever portray James Bond, lines that were written by guys that wrote other Bond films, and a timeline that works out.

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