Tag Archives: The Hunt For Red October

Actor’s Spotlight: Nate’s Top Ten Sean Connery Performances

What is there to say about Sean Connery other than he was a legend, an iconic totem who terraformed the landscape of cinema throughout his career and left us with a rogues gallery of tough guys, adventurers, action heroes and memorable starring roles to revisit. Here are my top ten favourite performances from Sean!

10. Draco in Rob Cohen’s Dragonheart

It’s only his voice here, but he voices a great majestic dragon and gets to banter with Dennis Quaid for the whole film, their chemistry is terrific. It’s one of the few times he did voiceover work which is odd because he’s got the pipes for it and would have done very well extensively. His pronunciation of “look to the stars” has always stuck in my mind since seeing this wonderful fantasy film as a kid.

9. Marshall William T. O’Niel in Peter Hyams’ Outland

This is a fairly standard western that just happens to be set in space, where plays the lone lawman standing up to corporate corruption on his own. There’s something so elemental about the sight of uniformed Sean, shotgun in hand dishing out justice on one of Jupiter’s moons, and he rocks the strong, silent, lethal avenger role here nicely.

8. Allan Quatermain in Stephen Norrington’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Alright so this film doesn’t have the best reputation but I really enjoy it, so there. Sean is terrific as the gruff literary figure and blusters his way through several delightfully preposterous action set pieces with a world weary swash and buckle that sells the material. Who cares if he himself has stated in interviews he had no idea what he was even filming because the script was all over the place, he looks damned dashing in the costume flinging around six guns, guzzling from a flask and making impossible shots from a highly stylized long rifle.

7. Henry Jones in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade

He makes the perfect dysfunctional father to Harrison Ford’s Indy here and their relationship is exactly what you’d expect from such an extreme lifestyle. My personal favourite moment is when he literally crashes an enemy plane from the ground by scaring up a flock of seagulls to obscure its visibility using his umbrella, and looks damned pleased with himself about it after too.

6. Marko Ramius in John McTiernan’s The Hunt For Red October

Some thought it odd to cast a Scot as a Russian submarine captain but he does such brilliant job as a morally shrouded man of fierce conviction and brutal resolve that we don’t even care about accents or ethnicity, just authenticity and nuance in performance.

5. Jim Malone in Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables

The toughest Irish cop in prohibition era Chicago, Malone is a true bruiser tasked with training Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his rogue unit, and he doesn’t fuck around either. “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.” His delivery of those lines is light, breezy but laced with lethality that has you believing every word.

4. John Connor in Philip Kaufman’s Rising Sun

This is an underrated performance in an even more underrated film and if you’re doing a Connery retrospective right now after he’s passed, it’s a must. There’s a murder among the elite Japanese community of LA, and Connor is a culturally adept guru who knows how to navigate such waters. It’s a terrific piece of acting with meaty dialogue, great character work and chemistry alongside Wesley Snipes.

3. Ramirez in Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander

I can’t imagine the fun he must have had playing this character, but it radiates off of him in every frame anyway. A supernatural Spaniard warrior tasked with training immortal Scottish McLeod (Christopher Lambert), he’s arch, tongue in cheek, lovable, adorned in eye shadow that would make Jack Sparrow blush and just has this wonderful, charming way about him that almost has you wishing he’d get his own spinoff franchise.

2. James Bond/007 in various James Bond films

Its Bond, baby. While I can’t call Sean my favourite Bond in cinema, he was technically the first actor to hold that martini, brandish that Walther PPK, fill out that expensive suit and kick ass for MI6, and he does so with style, flourish, sex appeal and magnetism in spades. My favourite outing of him as Bond? 1983’s Never Say Never Again, which might be an weird choice but hear me out: he was already an older dude by this time or old in terms of playing a lithe super spy, but man he was a trooper and did a fantastic job in his final Bond adventure alongside the likes of Rowan Atkinson, a sultry Kim Basinger and a sassy Barbara Carrera.

1. John Mason in Michael Bay’s The Rock

The other British super spy in his career, I love his work as Mason because there’s a lot more depth than 007 and we get this world weary, sardonic and almost very sad energy from a guy who has been locked up unjustly for like three decades. All he wants to do is see his grown up daughter one time but he’s recruited to basically save the entire city of San Francisco, which he does in his own sneaky, brutal and often quite funny way. Mason is a terrific character and much more than just a spy or action hero, Sean gives him a deep pathos and soulful gaze that makes this, at least for me, his best acting work.

John McTiernan’s The Hunt For Red October

John McTiernan’s The Hunt For Red October is considered the big daddy of submarine films and up until today I’d never seen the whole thing front to back. I now get the hype. This would always be on AMC or TBS Superstation when I was a kid, and my dad would always tune in no matter what. What a fantastic, thrilling, well acted film and one that carries a life affirming antiwar message while still containing some hair raising scenes of aquatic combat.

Marko Raimius (Sean Connery) is a legendary Soviet sub commander who has disappeared with the covert nuclear boat the Red October, plotting a course for the US eastern sea board and ditching any orders from Russian command. Is he going to nuke the east coast? CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) believes he means to defect and disarm but that’s a tricky thing to prove based on a series of hunches during a time of such uncertainty as this. Jack has an uncanny intuition about this guy, who remains somewhat of a mystery, even to his own crew and country. A harrowing series of chases, near misses, standoffs, moral wrestling, betrayals and political posturing ensue but at its heart this is a film about one dude who has had enough of war and just wants out, a theme I greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

Connery is superb here and this might be my favourite of his performances. He’s both enigma and beacon of personal integrity whilst fiercely not letting anyone get in his way, including a pesky, short lived political officer (Peter Firth). He carries the film with a grizzled nobility and despite being an antagonist of sorts, is the most likeable and relatable character. Baldwin fares very well as Ryan too and although Harrison Ford is still my tops, he plays this guy to the hilt with spirit and determination. Other standouts include Scott Glenn as a badass American sub captain, Richard Jones as a wry US negotiator and Courtney B. Vance as a keen radio communicator. The cast is amazing with killer work from Stellan Skarsgård, Joss Ackland, Andrew Divoff, Tomas Arana, Sam Neill, Tim Curry, Jeffrey Jones, Timothy Cathhart, Ned Vaughn, Fred Dalton Thompson, Gates McFadden, Shane Black, Peter Jason and James Earl Jones. This is the very definition of a solid film in all arenas and in that of thematic material and character, it excels wonderfully. My two favourite scenes: Connery and first mate Sam Neill discussing how they’d live their lives in America when all is said and done, where they’d live and what vehicles they will drive. Later on Ryan and Raimius share a moment alone on the sub’s deck as River banks pass by, each remembering their grandfathers teaching them to fish in their respective countries. Amidst all the angst, political unease, torpedos and destruction it’s nice to find little oasis moments of character, serving to remind us that whatever side we’re on and no matter how bad the conflict is, we are all just people. We all need reminding of that once in a while, and both Connery and Baldwin do that exceptionally with their work here. Great film.

-Nate Hill