Take 2: Thunderball
"My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?"
We’re going at a steady clip now as we swing into Thunderball, Bond #4.
This is the second highest grossing Bond film after Skyfall which speaks to the popularity of the series at the time. Adjusted for inflation, this made just over 1 billion dollars. A BEELION DOLLAHS MR. BOND!
SPECTRE has stolen two atomic bombs belonging to NATO, and is holding the British government to ransom for £100m (they could have just made Thunderball and got their cash that way). The bombs were taken out on a training mission for some reason so it wasn’t too difficult.
Bond goes to Nassau following a lead and sets about finding the bombs so the government doesn’t have to pay. He finds SPECTRE’s #2, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) at the helm of the operation.
A quarter of the film is underwater. There are so many complicated submarine sequences it feels like a long episode of Stingray. This would be fine but water slows things down and Thunderball makes no effort to escape this fact. These parts seem to last forever and it’s difficult to tell what the fuck is going on.
Thunderball shows the first signs of the franchise getting a bit bloated, and carried away with all its success. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “When it comes to underwater action scenes, less is more.”
Young then slaps you in the face with a sped up boat chase sequence, so poorly thought out I had to make sure there wasn’t a problem with the video. Why fast-forward an awesome boat chase only to keep the endless swimming about real-time?
It’s a shame that Thunderball gets weighed down by this, because the rest of the film is quite entertaining. Adolfo Celi’s turn as the eye-patched Largo is really fun, he really hams up the swarthy but smooth Mediterranean type. Luciana Paluzzi plays Fiona Volpe, a SPECTRE assassin. She’s one of the best sidekicks/henchmen we’ve seen so far, if only because she gets to ride a motorbike that shoots missiles. Much like Celi (obviously in a ‘different’ way… ahem) she creates a memorable, original character.
The DB5 gets another outing, there’s a real jet pack, sharks, explodey things, helicopters, pretty girls - the works. Connery is also in his element now as Bond, although rumour has it he was beginning to tire of the role and the fame it brought.
It’s a shame then that all of this gets forgotten because the last hour of the film is monotonous, leaving us half-asleep with a bitter taste in our mouths.