Thunderball – Review

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Sean Connery as James Bond explains thunderstorms to everyone that passes by… wait… that’s not what the movie is about?

by Ken B.

It was of vital importance that the 007 films of the 1960s be consistent and engaging, as the franchise was still in its infancy and needed to get it right every time to keep audiences coming back. Thunderball achieves just that. While a little on the long side, Thunderball makes up for most of its shortcomings by having sweeping visual effects, including excellently shot underwater footage and action scenes as well as a neatly polished screenplay, based on the 1961 Ian Fleming novel.

Sean Connery (my personal favorite Bond, possibly because he’s the first) plays the beloved agent in this fourth installment. Bond is sent to Nassau, to track down Largo (ADOLFO CELI), who is threatening to detonate two large nuclear weapons unless a large sum is paid. (Hmm… Right now I don’t think many Americans care much for plots where large weapons are suspect to be launched. This review was poor timing for the topically sensitive reader. Thankfully, I’m not.)

Thunderball really doesn’t diverge much from the classic Bond formula. As I mentioned before, it really shouldn’t have. The purpose of this movie was to present an entry in the series that satisfied audiences and had them wanting to see the next installment (which would be You Only Live Twice two years later), and this achieved that. Maybe looking back on it nearly fifty years later has it lose some of the initial awe, but it’s still mostly riveting. Yes, mostly. At 130 minutes, this movie does stumble a little on pacing issues, but there are nicely timed segments, even the somewhat lengthy climactic fight, which has a moment in it that caused me to scribble in my notebook “Pre-Jaws!”

That climactic fight takes place underwater. Easily the most technologically innovate part of Thunderball, the underwater cinematography supervised by Ricou Browning is incredible to watch. Looking on the iMDB now, I see the visual effects as a whole garnered this movie an Academy Award in 1966.

As with most movies of the action genre, it’s pointless to point out any scientific inaccuracies that occur. So I won’t. Ha.

But anyway, when looking for a sturdy James Bond film, you could do worse than Thunderball. Its only real noticeable stumbling block is its moderately inconsistent pacing, so with the addition of exotic cinematography, well choreographed fight scenes, no less than 4 Bond girls (which as rumor says, had dialogue dubbed over by the same person. The truth of this tidbit I cannot confirm or deny with my limited information available), and plenty of explosions, it’s a worthy entry in the lauded series.

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