Thunderball Review: The One With Big Underwater Battle
Movie title: Thunderball
Movie description: James Bond heads to the Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.
Known for its pretty innovative and well-made underwater fight scene, the fourth 007 big-screen adventure is, unfortunately, an overlong, boring, and ridiculous action movie without memorable villains and with dull action sequences.
Director: Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia with Love)
Cast: Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi, Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
Thunderball, or that Bond movie with a big underwater battle or the one where Bond is raped by a table, is a fourth 007 big-screen adventure, both for the character and main star Sean Connery. Produced by Eon Productions it was based on Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name from 1961 and was initially the first novel producers wanted to adapt for the big screen. But due to some legal problems, producers first adapted Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger before turning to this one.
You see, Ian Fleming based the novel on an original story he wrote together with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. After the novel was released in 1961 McClory and Whittingham sued him claiming he based it upon their screenplay. After the lawsuit was settled Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman allowed Kevin McClory to retain certain rights. As a result, McClory made Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery in 1983, during the Roger Moore era. Released in the same year as Moore’s Octopussy, Never Say Never Again was basically a remake of Thunderball with much older Sean Connery in the lead and is not considered as a part of Bond cannon.
Thunderball was a success and at the time highest-grossing Bond movie. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, with a total of around $590 million, Thunderball is the highest-grossing Bond movie in North America of all time. It also won an Oscar in 1966. for Best Special Visual Effects.
Building on a template established by its predecessor Goldfinger, Thunderball follows our favorite spy heading to the Bahamas to recover two NATO nuclear warheads stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). After sitting out on Goldfinger, Terence Young, a director of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, returned for the fourth 007 big-screen adventure. At the time of a release, Thunderball had a pretty innovative and well-made, although overlong, an underwater fight scene and it had one of the prettiest girls in Bond history. But unfortunately, those are the best things you can say about this 007 adventure, as Thunderball is a huge step down from its predecessors. Thunderball is an overlong, and boring Bond movie, featuring some truly ridiculous scenes that felt like they were taken from Austin Powers movie. I mean, at the start of the movie Bond escapes bad guys with a jetpack.
Almost all elements of this Bond adventure are worse than in its predecessors. The writing is not especially good and it feels like no one tried too much. Like everyone just relaxed due to the huge success of the previous movies. The main villain Largo, which has a pool filled with sharks, is less memorable than previous antagonists, and the movie is missing a dangerous and menacing henchman like Oddjob from Goldfinger or Red Grant from From Russia With Love. Action sequences aren’t that thrilling or tense and a lot of them, especially the ones that happen underwater, are a little too long.
The whole movie is simply put, boring. And that’s probably the worst thing you can say about an action movie. Besides that ridiculous scene with the jetpack at the beginning of the movie, there are a couple of more silly scenes like this “torture” scene. Was this supposed to be taken seriously? I mean, what’s going on here – is Bond humping a table, is a table humping Bond or is 007 raped by an invisible man?
Thunderball isn’t a terrible Bond movie but it also isn’t especially good – it’s an overlong, boring, and ridiculous action movie without memorable villains and with dull action sequences. Watch it if you must.
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