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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.5%
Average: 30%
Pretty Bad: 7.5%
Total Crap: 2.5%

1 review, 34 user ratings

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by MP Bartley

"The One Underwater."
3 stars

With Bond's future guaranteed in film after an exceptional run of three films, Eon could have taken him anywhere so they took him underwater. However they also took Bond into another area, which was less welcome: routine. Because 'Thunderball' smells of three things: franchise, formula and staleness.

After a disappointing pre-credit sequence, that signals the first time a Bond film ever became very silly (why would an agent who's faked his own death turn up at his funeral as a woman?) and the first appearance of a Bond gadget that's also pretty ludicrous (his DB5 is the epitome of cool but his tinfoil jet-pack just looks cheap and nasty), Tom Jones turns up to bellow his way through the most overtly macho song yet.

Bond, like the rest of the MI6 agents is assigned to find out where SPECTRE have hidden two atomic missiles they've stolen from a NATO jet. Bond follows a link to the missing pilots sister, Domino (Claudine Auger) who is currently in Nassau with her guardian, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) who also happens to be SPECTRE Number Two.

'Thunderball' marked the return of Terrance Young to direct the series who had done such marvellous work on 'Dr. No' and 'From Russia With Love', which had been a superb combination of intrigue and action. However, Young seems to have forgotten this and 'Thunderball' is sadly lacking in both departments. There's barely an action sequence to be found on land with no car chase or fight to get excited about. Instead we get a lot of underwater battles. They're photograped superbly, but one of the main drawbacks about action underwater is that it
For the main part, the struggles underwater just consist of furious wrestling amongst a cloud of bubbles that make it difficult to figure out what's going on and to whom.
It's only in a final harpoon-gun battle between SPECTRE and NATO that anything becomes clear or thrilling (and it is a superb battle in fairness).

There's also a general lack of intrigue to grasp our interest which means that 'Thunderball' is the first Bond film to be boring for the main part. Bond knows Largo is a SPECTRE agent from the outset and Largo knows Bond is a spy from the outset so where's the interest or tension there? There's also little tension as to where the bombs are hidden so it feels like an age just to find the damn things when we pretty much know where they are. There's no sense of the global panic that SPECTRE is trying to cause. The little potential there is for intrigue is badly handled however. The reason that Bond decides to go to Nassau is tenous at best and the exact relationship between Largo and the pilot of the plane stretches all belief. Largo just happened to be the guardian of a NATO pilot flying atomic bombs? How convenient.

'Thunderball' is the first time that anything feels routine. The Nassau setting is a retread of 'Dr. No' and the stolen device is a retread of 'From Russia With Love'. And Largo is just a lame version of Dr. No himself. If you can tell the quality of a man by the quality of his enemys then it's a good thing that Bond had bigger and better villains bookending 'Thunderball' as Celi makes for a bland villain. With only one eye and sharks for pets, Largo looks cool but never anything more, with no memorable lines or actions and Celi makes little of him. There's no decent henchmen either.

The Bond girls too are a letdown. They're gorgeous which we take for granted, but to stand out they've got to be more than that. Ultimately there's too many for them trying to get attention (as well as Auger there's Luciana Paluzzi as SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe, Molly Peters as a nurse and Martine Beswick as CIA agent Paula) so they crowd each out which means none get much of a chance to spark with Connery like Honour Blackman did.

Connery is starting to feel a little flat at this point. The part's second nature to him now, and it feels like he's not taking an active interest here. The brutal edge of Bond has been blunted as well to the point where every death is despatched with a one-liner and no hint of menace. And although a good film for M, the appearance of Q is again a retread of his 'Goldfinger' scene and feels more like a crowd-pleaser rather than a vital function to the narrative. Rik Van Nutter however makes for the best Leiter since Jack Lord, so all is not bad in the acting department.

'Thunderball' is competently put together, but all its best bits are from the previous three. Aside from the exciting climax (which is a long time coming) there's little to make 'Thunderball' stand out amongst the other Bond films. While not as bad as 'Diamonds Are Forever' it's a long way from the heights of 'Goldfinger'. Ironically the lasting impression of 'Thunderball' is that it's treading water.

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originally posted: 07/20/04 01:09:27
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User Comments

7/07/18 Suzanne Sean Connery is suave and athletic, but the underwater scenes are confusing. 3 stars
10/16/12 Dr.Lao Not the best Bond movie, but very good 4 stars
5/21/12 keith miron Thunderball is the worst Bond movie ! 1 stars
4/11/10 Black Lance Not bad 3 stars
12/13/08 Ravenwest Average 3 stars
10/06/08 Mark Gibson Boring in the extreme, not one of the best You only live twice has more inventiveness to it 2 stars
1/28/08 JV35 It is a very good film 5 stars
7/21/07 Sugarfoot A great entry, though not as good as Goldfinger, still damn good. 4 stars
4/24/07 David Risser Best of Sean Connery as James Bond. Very Entertaining. 4 stars
1/23/07 action movie fan best movie of 1965, not on level with goldfinger but slick and exciting 4 stars
10/14/06 SMC Thunderball aged poorly? Not at all--it ranks with Goldfinger and FRWL. Nearly seamless. 5 stars
9/16/06 ProSneakyD The Star wars of the 60's, bit talky but more explosive & entertaining than Goldfinger. 5 stars
7/08/06 inty bestbestbest 5 stars
1/03/06 Anthony Feor Bond couldn't be better 5 stars
11/21/05 chris quite boring at parts but a reasonable film 3 stars
10/26/05 Nick A bit disappointing compared to the previous Goldfinger but still a good movie 4 stars
5/26/05 tony The Best Bond film of the 60's. Filled with exellent fight scenes and great acting! 5 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Boy this has aged poorly, but all the elements of great over-the-top Bond. 4 stars
11/17/04 C Vega More Serious Than The Other Connery Ones But Still Classic Bond 4 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Connery is the best 5 stars
7/25/04 Drew-P Connery is cool and the underwater fights are fun 4 stars
6/01/04 Nobody Not Bad 4 stars
11/29/03 john everything a Bond film needs to be - superb! 5 stars
10/11/03 JimmyC LARGO is the man 4 stars
7/06/03 Paul S. Classic moments: traction table, casino scene, sharks, underwater battle, rocket pack etc. 5 stars
5/16/03 Andrew Carden Surprisingly Fun Bond Outing With Good Location Shots. Connery Is Alright. 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Cannot figure why people hate this one so much 5 stars
9/17/02 CVJ Slow beginning but great ending 4 stars
2/17/02 R.W. Welch Run of the mill 007 pic, relatively unimaginative. 3 stars
2/05/02 Race Bannon This is a classic - How could you not love it? 5 stars
9/09/01 Henry Ginsberg booooooooooooring. 2 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Pretty disturbing for 1965, but Sean Connery and Desmond Llewelyn kick butt. 3 stars
4/08/00 Gremlin the first Bond movie I saw, it started my obsession, the big sea battle is the shit 5 stars
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