Countdown to Skyfall: Thunderball (1965)

Countdown to Skyfall: Thunderball (1965)

THUNDERBALL (1965)

BOND: Sean Connery

DIRECTOR: Terence Young

BOND GIRL(S): Claudine Auger (Domino); Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona) - both are stunningly beautiful (duh, but still worth noting).

COOL GADGETS: Bond rocks a rocket Jet Pack in the opening sequence; Q later gives him an underwater breathing apparatus that looks kind of like a harmonica, a radioactive homing pill, and an underwater propulsion unit, among other items.

THEME SONG: "Thunderball," sung by Tom Jones.  The song suits Jones' voice to a tee, but it desperately just wants to be another "Goldfinger."

IMDB PLOT SUMMARY: James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.

ICONIC MOMENTS: Probably the gathering of SPECTRE henchmen all sitting at a round table, with an eyepatch-wearing No. 2 (Emilio Largo) present, and No. 1 (Blofeld) petting his kitty while dispatching some of them with a flick of a button.

FUN FACTS: The budget for Thunderball was huge for the time: $9 million - more than the first 3 other Bond films combined.   Would later be remade (with an older Connery back as Bond) in 1983's Never Say Never Again.

VERDICT: Hot off the success of Goldfinger, this Bond feels like a victory lap for the filmmakers.  Armed with an ample amount of confidence and goodwill, Thunderball struck me as an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of sequel.  Everything is bigger here, though not necessarily better.  The gadgets are crazier.  The Bond girls are hotter.  The movie is overstuffed with underwater action, chases, love scenes, fights, and Jet Packs.  The plot, threadbare as it is (Largo steals some nukes and wants to hold the world ransom), often seems disjointed and jumps all over the place.  Thunderball reminded me a lot of a sequel like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.  There is a lot of money being thrown at the screen and some of the visuals can't help but impress (the underwater action sequences are pretty spectactular here, especially the nuke heist), but it's all just too much by the end.  Exhausting and overlong, but often fun and not without some merit.

GRADE: B

Filed under: Movies, Retrospectives

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