Review: Thunderball (1965)


Director: Terence Young

Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi

Release Date: 29th December 1965 (UK)

Overly long. That is my brief summary review of this celluloid turd.

Ok, that may be a bit too strong. Thunderball is an enjoyable film and while problems such as characters being annoyed for no discernable reason (see the Q in the Bahamas scene) and has far too many characters with little or nothing to do, but even I have to admit, the story can do with a great deal being left on the cutting room floor.

The opening segment has Bond at a convalescence home while SPECTRE’s Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celli) explains his plot to steal a Vulcan Bomber and it’s MOS type Nuclear Missiles so he and number one can use them to hold the Earth to ransom. The main problem with this being while it does lead to a fair few enjoyable scenes as Sean Connery as 007 plays a cat and mouse game of ‘torture the bad guy’ with the man sent to the spa to kill him, it does nothing to advance the plot or match the fast editing this series is famed for. Indeed, we spend the next hour or so with James Bond as he slowly works out what SPECTRE’s plan is in this outing, all the while we already know full well.

Fiona Volpe played well by Luciana Paluzzi is a welcome sight for sore eyes. As is dictated by the Bond formula, she is beautiful, but perhaps to audiences’ surprise, she is pretty much a female version of James Bond. By that I don’t mean she guzzles down Vodka Martinis or has innumerable lovers (although neither would be hard to imagine), but she takes Bond to task for his womanising ways and makes it clear she will not be won over, not least in the same manner Bond has done before. The series has made a habit of continually saying the female characters of the past 20 years have all been in the ‘gone are the bimbos!’ mantra, all the while never really making any big deal about Volpe as being in line with this or not. I think this is a glaring omission and anyone who continues to forget to mention her should face a motorbike with mounted rocket launchers.

Aditionally, Thunderball heavily utilises filming underwater. This was directed by another unit and it seems their was no effort to make this footage gel well with that shot by those responsible for the overground footage. The result is that for large chunks of the movie, the pace slows to an absolute crawl then in others, metaphorically goes from a standing start to 60 mph in seconds. This feels disjointed to say the least and in most, if not all cases, will harm your viewing pleasure of the film which I feel without this glaring mistake which stands out like a sore thumb and is directly responsible for me calling it over long, may have been a flawed gem like its forebears. As it stands, Thunderball is a mess and arguably the weakest film in Connery’s tenure in the role.

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