Review of 'Thunderball'

4th film in the 'James bond' series

thunderball.jpg Thunderball is Bond's fourth outing with the action (and sexism) notably dialled up from previous films.

François Derval (Paul Stassino), a French NATO pilot is killed by someone looking exactly like him, taking his place on a Vulcan bomber carrying two nuclear warheads. This agent of the criminal crime syndicate SPECTRE kills the rest of the crew, landing the plane in the ocean where the bombs are removed…and he is killed. At a health clinic where James Bond (Sean Connery) is receiving treatment he discovers the dead pilot whose head is wrapped in bandages. After SPECTRE threatens NATO with the destruction of a major city if their ransom demands are not met all of the British 00 agents are summoned to find and stop SPECTRE. Bond recognises the dead man from the clinic as Derval in a picture of him and his sister Domino (Claudine Auger) who lives in Nassau. In Nassau he discovers Domino is SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo's (Adolfo Celi) mistress and manages to save her life while diving. Largo has hidden the warheads and has his eye on the British agent now taking an interest in Domino. The clock is ticking as Bond must find the bombs and, of course, get the girl(s)…

With some of the most incredible underwater action sequences ever, Thunderball certain ramps up the action from the previous three Bond films. This is wall-to-wall action and a much more elaborate story. Bond is a much more active character here and the film moves on at quite a pace. The increased budget is obvious including much more elaborate sets and a richer film score by John Barry (though the original soundtrack features very little from this composer due to the production delays). Though there is often little time to catch our breath there are elements where Young slows it down for us to appreciate more what is actually going on such as when 007 reveals to Domino the fate of her brother (though this scene is concluded by a brutal murder). In many ways we see Bond here becoming more the 007 character than a human as will continue to be explored in future pictures.

In Thunderball we really start to see the introduction of more and more elaborate gadgets that will be a hallmark of the series. From Q (Desmond Llewelyn) we see Bond equipped with a compact underwater re-breather device and radiation-detecting watch but from the villains we see some amazing underwater craft that, evidently, actually were real, functioning vehicles (including weapons). In the first 10 minutes of the film we see Bond flying in a jet pack and his car sporting a bullet shield and two huge water hoses to wash away the opposition…

The simple framing of previous Bond films continues here including the rapid-cut action sequences and amazingly simple, elegant sets. This along with the vibrant colours give an air of sophistication to the film that is truly a Bond trademark.

The beginning of Bond as we know him, Thunderball is full of action…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-01-05

Directed by: Terence Young

Studio: Eon Productions

Year: 1965

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films in the 'James bond' series:

Other reviewed films by Terence Young: