You thought Diamonds Are Forever was the end of Sean Connery's James Bond? Oh boy, are you in for a treat.
There is a fan theory that has been circulating since the release of Michael Bay’s second feature film, The Rock. To be completely real with you, it is a damn good and solid theory.
Since The Rock came about in 1996, many fans speculated that John Mason (Sean Connery) was actually 007 himself. Based on some of the surface-level things Mason revealed about himself and timelines matching up too perfectly, there are too many correlations that make us believe Mason and Bond are the same person. Because Connery portrayed both characters, this makes the whole theory even juicier.
This theory is fully explained in Pentex Production’s video, which you can check out below.
If you haven’t seen the classic action-packed movie by Michael Bay, here is a quick rundown of the plot:
Decorated U.S. war veteran, Francis Hummel (Ed Harris), wants to steal chemical weapons and hold hostages on Alcatraz till the U.S. government pays reparations to the families of the soldiers who died under his command. FBI director Jim Womack (John Spencer) and the Department of Defense enlist the services of convict and former British special forces operative, John Mason, to help the Navy Seals break into Alcatraz, using his knowledge from the time he broke out of the prison in 1963. Mason and chemical weapons expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) team up to disarm Hummel’s missiles and save the hostages on Alcatraz.
Oof, that’s a lot, but it gives you what you need to know for this amazing fan theory.
Is his name even John Mason?
Obviously, the biggest issue in this fan theory is that Connery’s character in The Rock is named John Mason, not James Bond.
The easiest, fan-explained theory that explains why his name is John Mason is that James Bond is a code name for whoever takes on the role of 007. Connery’s Bond has the real name of John Mason. The major, gaping hole in this theory is that all of the Eon films have consistently established that different actors are playing the same character, James Bond.
They refer to the death of Bond’s wife, Teresa Bond, in the Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan Bond films, and establish that his parents' surname is Bond in the Daniel Craig Bond films.
Putting that theory to the side, let me try to explain why The Rock refers to Bond as John Mason.
John Mason is the codename. Think about it—James Bond frequently uses fake names and usually has fake documents to support his cover identity. If Bond is captured on a mission, then it makes sense that he was processed under the name in his fake passport. To further support this idea is the fact that in The Rock, Womack says, “This man has no identity, not in the United States or Great Britain. He does not exist.”
Sounds very secret agent-y to me.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: MI6 would have rescued Bond if he were in danger.
Sorry, but you’re wrong. It’s a common spy movie trope that if an undercover agent is captured, their government will deny any involvement. In Bond films, we can see this to be true when M puts the well-being of Britain above the rest of its agents. Remember the whole beginning of Skyfall and how Craig’s Bond got shot because M thought the shot would kill the target as well? Agents are replaceable.
Point and case, John Mason is just Bond’s cover name.
The timeline works
In The Rock, we learn that Mason was “incarcerated on Alcatraz in 1962... escaped in ‘63.” From this information, we know that Bond was first captured after the events of Dr. No, which was released in 1962 and set in the same time period. This is known because the government building in Jamaica has the British flag flying. It wasn’t until after August 6, 1962, that Jamaica became independent.
Bond could have been captured right after the end of Dr. No. At the end of that film, Bond disconnects the tow rope that would have insured his rescue by CIA agent Felix Leiter because Bond wanted to (cough cough) have some downtime with Honey Rider after almost dying (who can blame him). Bond isn’t rescued by the CIA, which means he is captured by someone else, most likely a Navy patrol boat, and he is assumed to be one of the henchmen that escaped Dr. No’s evil lair.
Bond then goes to Alcatraz after Dr. No under the fake name of John Mason, then escapes sometime in ‘63. He would be back in Britain and ready for his next mission in From Russia With Love. Funny enough, From Russia With Love supports Bond being locked away when Silvia Trench (Eunice Gayson) complains that Bond didn’t contact her for six months after going to Jamaica.
Also, the idea that it’s impossible to escape from Alcatraz is completely false; it’s just really hard given the tide of the San Francisco Bay.
Both Bond films and The Rock’s timelines match up perfectly. If you’re still on the fence about the timelines working, here is some more evidence.
Womack states in The Rock that Mason was captured because he stole microfilm files that had information on prominent Americans and Europeans. “Mason was the British operative who stole the files. But our Bureau agents caught him at the Canadian border.”
The Rock mentions twice that the microfilm files contained information about who really killed JFK, so we know the microfilm can’t exist before November 1963. Bond/Mason must have stolen the microfilm sometime after his escape in 1963. The only clue that The Rock gives us to when Bond/Mason was recaptured was sometime after his daughter’s birth. When asked why the U.S. didn’t use Mason’s daughter, Jade (Claire Forlani), as leverage, Womack states, “Hoover was dead in ‘72, she wasn’t even born yet.” This strongly implies that Mason stole the microfilm after President Hoover’s death in ‘72.
What was Mason doing between ‘63 and his recapture? Being James freaking Bond. Connery’s last Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, was released in 1971 (we aren’t including Never Say Never Again because it is not an official Eon Film and takes place in a different continuity). Diamonds Are Forever ends with Bond in the U.S., and not just anywhere. He is living on the S.S. Canberra docked in San Francisco in 1971.
Between 1971 and 1972, Bond had enough time to have a one-night stand which led to the conception of his daughter, Jade, before returning to MI6 for one last mission. He went undercover in the FBI in hopes to obtain the microfilm, which had all the dirt on the British government. There, he befriends Womack. It is clear that the two men have personal animosity toward one another, but it is never clear why. It could be that Bond used Womack to get access to the FBI and betrayed him by stealing the microfilm.
This is why Womack doesn’t trust John Mason—if that is his real name.
Bond probably only took this job because he was reflecting on his life and career. He could have wanted to stay with Jade’s mother, and MI6 promised retirement if Bond stole the microfilm. One final mission. Bond steals the microfilm file, stashes it in Kansas, and tries to escape to Canada, only to be captured for good. Once captured, the FBI realizes that Bond is an undercover agent, and Bond tells them that his real name is John Mason to protect MI6. Of course, MI6 denies having any knowledge of him, and Bond stays in prison under the name of John Mason until 1995 (the year The Rock takes place).
There is one flaw in the whole timeline. When Mason is talking to Hummel, he says he was an Army captain when we all know that James Bond was a commander in the British Navy, but Bond/Mason may be lying. Because he is a spy.
Hummel knows Mason is James Bond
Hummel, the villain in The Rock, is a well-established and decorated war vet with “three tours in Vietnam,” where he was a major. To be a major in the U.S. Army, you need to have 10 years of service, and we can assume Hummel was fighting in Vietnam from fairly early on in the war (which began in 1964). Hummel also states that his career dates back to the Tet Offensive in 1968.
During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers had respite leave in Hong Kong, which was British territory at the time. Hummel could have been there in 1967, shortly before returning to the war in time to be there from the Tet Offensive.
If you saw You Only Live Twice, which took place in 1967, James Bond was in Hong Kong at the same time. It is not really plausible that Hummel and Bond met each other there, but it is possible that Hummel picked up the newspaper and saw the front-page story about British Naval Commander, James Bond, being murdered. This newspaper featured a photograph of Bond that was shown in You Only Live Twice.
For Hummel, this was a very heartbreaking story to read and could have struck a chord with him to pay his condolences to Bond’s family. Maybe he noted the full honors bestowed to Bond by the Navy and wondered why it wasn’t given to all the fallen soldiers. Perhaps Hummel tried to pay his respects to Bond’s next-of-kin and found out that Bond’s death was fake. Full honors to a fake dead soldier while Hummel’s men’s deaths faded into oblivion left a sour taste in his mouth that he’d never forget.
When Hummel greets Bond/Mason, he asks, “Name and rank, sailor,” which confuses Bond/Mason. Hummel is testing Bond to see if he is the same man who died all those years ago, but Bond sticks to his cover story, and the film continues.
That last piece of evidence is a little fantastic, but it could still be true. Even if it doesn’t hold up, the last two pieces of evidence are strong enough to conclude that John Mason is Connery’s James Bond. There is also real-world history that also lines up with the timeline, helping solidify it as likely.
Now, this theory isn’t consistent with Connery’s Bond films. His Eon run ended in 1971, which means that the theory we just spoke of could be flawed.
Even in a 1996 interview with director Michael Bay, he says, “This picture shows that James Bond can age and he can still be mean. One day when we were filming, Sean came up to me and whispered, ‘You know what I’m doing? I’m getting to be James Bond without being called James Bond, you know, it’s kinda fun to kick some ass.'”
This statement means that James Bond and John Mason are not canonically the same person, but isn’t it more fun to think that they are?
If you haven’t seen The Rock, go celebrate its 25th anniversary and give it a watch with this theory in mind.
Let us know what you think about this amazing fan theory in the comments below!