Sean Connery, with his trademark deep, husky voice that is almost as legendary as that of Morgan Freeman‘s, has a cinematic legacy etched into history to stand the test of time. Born on the 25th August 1930, Connery would have a long-acting career that gave us some unforgettable moments. His most critical contribution to cinema is no doubt the original on-screen iteration of Ian Fleming’s lothario-cum-spy, James Bond.
Just as controversial as the spy who made him, Connery’s career was one of many ups and downs. In addition to his work as the Martini sipping Bond, he also collaborated with some of cinema’s most distinguished directors. He starred alongside Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock‘s unnerving psychological thriller, Marnie, in 1964. In fact, it was in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s where Connery would offer audiences his best and best-loved work.
In addition to working with British cinema’s most accomplished auteur, Alfred Hitchcock, Connery also starred in films by decorated filmmakers such as Sidney Lumet and John Huston. In 1965, he featured in Lumet’s classic army-prison drama The Hill, and in 1974 he appeared as Colonel Arbuthnot in Lumet’s all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Shortly after, he gave us one of his most captivating roles as Daniel Dravot in John Huston’s unforgettable adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling adventure, The Man Who Would Be King.
Reaching his half-century mark in 1980, Connery would appropriately give us some more measured characters across the decade, adopting a more fatherly on-screen persona. This was a stark contrast to the red, nappy wearing character, Zed, that Connery played in Boorman’s cult classic fantasy romp, Zardoz, in 1974.
Across the ’80s, he also gave us a wide variety of roles. Some of these were Connery at his most unique. 1986 saw the actor star as the sword-wielding Ramirez in Highlander and as medieval monk/sleuth William of Baskerville in the chilling adaptation of Umberto Eco’s masterpiece, The Name of the Rose. In 1987, he starred alongside actor du jour Kevin Costner in the noir-thriller The Untouchables and the most famous of them all, as Indiana Jones senior in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
As his career moved into the ’90s and beyond, Connery would produce other memorable roles, notably in flicks such as The Hunt for Red October and as the voice of Draco in Dragonheart. However, come the turn of the millennium, Connery’s stock began to fall, owing to him starring in one too many terrible films. He officially retired from acting in 2006 before briefly returning for a stint of voice-over works in 2012.
While much has been written about Connery’s positive contributions to the world of cinema, there is a hole in the discourse surrounding his most obscure and ill-fated offerings. This got us thinking, what are Sean Connery’s worst films?
Join us as we list in no particular order, Connery’s five worst.
Sean Connery’s worst-ever movies:
Sir Billi – (Sascha Hartmann, 2012)
This entry is the 2012 computer-animated adventure that Connery came out of retirement to lend his voice to. Widely hailed as a downright terrible film, Connery stars as the eponymous skateboarding octagenarian who sets out to foil the plan of an evil local policeman.
Set in a fictional version of Inverness, Scotland, the film also stars Alan Cumming, Miriam Margolyes and Ruby Wax. With a budget of £15 million, the returns were meagre, to say the least. In total, the film made a whopping $15,838 at the box office. An unimaginative film containing many references to Connery’s past as James Bond, and no end of weird sexual innuendo’s, Sir Billi, is not only one of Connery’s worst-ever films, but one of the worst films ever made.
Highlander 2: The Quickening – (Russell Mulcahy, 1991)
When we mentioned that Sir Billi was one of the worst films ever made, we didn’t afford it the crown of cinema dung as 1991’s Highlander 2: The Quickening, which also makes a good case for the unfortunate title. The second instalment in the over the top franchise, Highlander 2 saw the story’s transition from fantasy to all-out science fiction. Owing to a disastrous string of events in the film’s production, excited audiences were left with a story that completely contradicts the established canon.
For instance, protagonist MacLeod’s former mentor Ramírez who was famously played by Connery and killed in the first film is inexplicably resurrected and now depicted as an evil alien wizard. What ensues is 100 minutes of ’90s cheese, and not in a good way. The film doesn’t even have the hapless likeability of a B-movie. The film takes itself way too seriously, and Connery’s performance is simply dreadful.
The Avengers – (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1998)
The 1998 take on the zany cult series from the ’60s is a real oddity. This Jeremiah Chechik directed outing features all the ridiculous elements of the turn of the millennium mainstream cinema. Featuring way too many scenes with over-acting and overdone slapstick, and a soundtrack that is a hybrid of dance and big band, The Avengers is nothing short of cringe. With a highly respectable cast featuring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, featuring cameos from the original cast such as Patrick Macnee, on paper, this film had the potential to be somewhat acceptable.
However, Connery’s character of Sir August de Wynter, a mad scientist bent on controlling the world’s weather, takes the film into the farcical realm. Connery’s villain is an overblown pastiche of many of the Bond villains he faced and is not short of terrible one-liners. De Wynter is a sneering, obnoxious character that along with the film, deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
A Good Man In Africa – (Bruce Beresford, 1994)
This 1994 comedy-drama flick is just so ridiculous.
An adaptation of William Boyd’s 1981 novel of the same name, Connery stars alongside Colin Friels, Diana Rigg and John Lithgow. The film carries across none of the sneering takes on colonialism in Africa that made the book so respected and features terrible acting across the board. The movie is brimming with cheese, made worse by Connery’s unrestrained performance as Dr. Alex Murray, a voice of the African people in the film, an unconvincing outing given his rather old-school off-screen opinions.
Even the film’s director, Bruce Beresford, does not remember the film fondly: “God, that was horrible. That was the worst film experience I ever had. It was cast wrong, the crew was all strange. We were filming in the wrong place. We filmed in South Africa, it was set in West Africa. Which is like shooting in Alaska when it’s set in New Orleans.”
First Knight – (Jerry Zucker, 1995)
This might cause a stir, but 1995’s First Knight is a sickeningly romantic take on the Arthurian legend. It stars Connery as King Arthur and follows the era’s premier hunk, Richard Gere, as Lancelot, as he embarks on the age-old affair with Lady Guinevere. Whilst it was a hit and a success at the box office, First Knight has not aged well and is an unimaginative take on the original Arthurian legend.
Furthermore, the film is stuffed with static performances that make it one big snooze-fest. It had the potential, but there is no on-screen chemistry between the stars and the script is thin and takes obvious turns. It has no self-awareness, devoiding it of any humour that could have been found in how poor the film is.