‘The Offence’: The Two Faces of Humanity with Sean Connery

We can relate to Connery's character to a point, but he really pushes the envelope.

by Kali Tuttle
The Offence

In order to return as James Bond for Diamonds Are ForeverSean Connery demanded that United Artists had to back two movies of his choice. The first of the two was The Offence. Due to poor box office reception, the second was canceled. It’s a strange movie, but I think its lukewarm reception can be attributed to the picture of humanity it paints.

Connery’s character, Sergeant Detective Johnson, reflects the worst parts of humans, but it also goes into sociopathic territory. We all have terrible, morbid thoughts, but to go as far as Johnson goes is something very few of us ever dream of.

Obsession with the Gruesome

In The OffenceJohnson is almost obsessed with his gruesome past cases. He relives them every day, to the detriment of his sanity. Most people have not seen things as disturbing as this detective, but we still have the ability to imagine some pretty morbid things. That’s just the human condition.

Johnson’s case is extreme, but his shame at having imagined the gruesome acts is universal. Who among us has not imagined the worst when we hear of a grisly police case in the news? If we weren’t so obsessed with the gory and disgusting, the Saw franchise would not have been as successful as it is.

Johnson does his best to hide these awful thoughts in The Offencebut his growing anxieties betray him in the end. He eventually finds solace in a man he believes actually committed some of these horrid acts. He ironically jumps deeper into the darkness to feel better.

Taking It One Step Further

What separates most people from The Offence’s Detective Johnson is our actions. Most people don’t go on violent sprees like Michael Douglas in Falling Down or beat people to death like Connery’s Johnson. That’s what separates the rest of humanity from psychotics like Johnson — their actions.

Johnson is in a unique position as a police officer. He sees the most despicable things, but he gets to act against the perpetrators. Yet, even in his privileged position, there’s a line he can’t cross. His decision to cross that line when interrogating suspected rapist Kenneth Baxter (Ian Bannen) is his breaking point. That’s when he loses his humanity.

What makes Johnson different from the average human who enjoys a gory horror movie or reads true crime stories is that Johnson took a step over that line. Rather than serving justice for the people who actually commit the heinous crimes we think of, he became one of them.

Losing His Humanity?

After he’s beaten Baxter to death, Johnson steps back and surveys the scene. At that moment, a few cops rush in to extricate Johnson from the room. Johnson, in his altered state of mind, beats them all to the ground. Standing among his fellow officers, now bloodied on the floor, Johnson utters, “God. Oh God.”

It seems that Johnson immediately regrets his outburst. The Offence ends before we see how he handles this momentary lapse of judgment. Does he repent of his actions and become a better man or does he fully delve into those dark thoughts he tried so hard to push away?

It’s this uncertainty that makes the audience uncomfortable. How far gone is too far gone? At what point does a person lose their humanity and fully turn to the darkness? Are all people as susceptible to this as Johnson was? It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and leaves you with your thoughts, as perverted as they may be.


Is Johnson’s case as common as The Offence would have us think? Do we all have a certain breaking point that, if reached, would have us commit heinous, violent crimes? There’s more than just normal human behavior to consider here. The environment plays a huge role here.

My personal theory is that Johnson only lost his mind because he lived in England. It’s a rainy, cloudy country. I would go mad living there too, especially if I was dealing with the dregs of humanity as Johnson was. If Johnson had taken leave somewhere the sun shines more than once a season, I think he could have changed the events of The Offence. 

Johnson also serves as a poignant reminder of how important it is for those who suffer from PTSD to get help and have someone to talk to. Many times during the night he stayed up with his wife, Johnson lamented that he just wanted someone to listen to him. His wife tries but taps out once things start getting too gory for her. Johnson needed someone who could listen and not shirk away from him; this is the most relatable part of him. We all want someone to listen to us.

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and Kali Tuttle @tuttle_kali2.

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Uri January 29, 2023 - 1:15 pm

Thoughtfully written. I’m putting this one on my watchlist.

Nick Kush January 29, 2023 - 10:45 am

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